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Moldovan Communists Say 'No' To Joining Opposition

The head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Vlad Filat, said the Communists owed it to the nation of 4.5 million to abandon attempts to remain in power.
CHISINAU (Reuters) -- Moldova's Communist Party, which lost its parliamentary majority in last month's election, has rejected any notion of a coalition with its liberal rivals and said it would build a center-left group of its own.

The Communists have run ex-Soviet Moldova, Europe's poorest country, since 1991 with varying policies of closer ties with Moscow and integration with Europe. Led by outgoing President Vladimir Voronin, they remain the largest party but were reduced in the poll to 48 seats in the 101-member assembly.

Four opposition parties, with a combined 53 seats, have formed a grouping dubbed the "Alliance for European Integration" before the new parliament's first sitting next week.

Senior Communist Vadim Mishin said after a party meeting that there were no plans to join the opposition. But their deputies, he said, were free to join the Communists in their proposed center-left coalition.

"If one or two deputies give their backing to such a coalition, then it will be formed," Mishin said.

The opposition's 53 seats are sufficient to elect a parliament speaker and even a government in the country wedged between Ukraine and European Union member Romania.

But 61 votes are needed to secure election by parliament of a president. The Communists came first in an April parliamentary election -- prompting violent protests by disaffected young urban voters -- and it was the Communists' subsequent failure to get the 61 votes that forced last month's early elections.

Voronin cannot run for a third term but under the constitution, if the new parliament fails again to elect a president, he stays on in office until next year.

Call For Communists To Leave

The head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Vlad Filat, told Reuters the Communists owed it to the nation of 4.5 million to abandon attempts to remain in power.

"The Communists are forever talking about the importance of stability," Filat said. "This is the very moment when, in the interests of stability, they should vote for a new president to resolve the political crisis and avoid yet another election."

Also in the opposition coalition are two other broadly pro-Romanian parties, the Liberals and the Our Moldova Alliance, plus the Democratic Party under Communist defector Marian Lupu.

Voronin was initially close to Moscow, but fell out with Russia over what he said was support for Russian-speaking separatists in Moldova's Transdniester region. In the past two years, he renewed ties with Moscow and on August 21 met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

A senior Kremlin source later said Moscow was waiting for Moldovan politicians to form a government before resuming talks on key issues, including $500 million of proposed credit.

Vitaly Andrievschii of the think tank said the opposition was unlikely to hand the Communists any senior posts but would try to find a compromise presidential candidate.

"A candidate will be found that Communist deputies could conceivably vote for," he told Reuters.

"That candidate cannot be a political figure, but must place himself at an equal distance from all parties, but enjoy considerable authority and trust in the country."