CHISINAU -- Four Moldovan deputies officially announced today they are leaving the Communist Party's parliamentary group to form an independent parliamentary bloc, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
The four defectors are Vladimir Turcan and Victor Stepaniuc -- who previously told RFE/RL they were leaving -- and Ludmila Belcencova and Valentin Guznac.
Turcan and Stepaniuc said today their main reason for splitting with Moldova's opposition party was the Communists' refusal to vote on December 7 for Marian Lupu, the ruling coalition's candidate for president and himself an earlier defector from the Communist Party.
A top leader of the party, Mark Tkachuk, said today the four left because they did not want to be in the opposition and "wanted power."
The Communists lost the July 29 parliamentary elections to an alliance of four largely pro-European parties.
Today's defections were hailed by acting President Mihai Ghimpu, an outspoken pro-Romania and pro-EU politician who is also parliament speaker.
After the second failure of the presidential election on December 7, Moldova is constitutionally required to hold new parliamentary elections.
With the Communist Party's popularity plummeting in polls, its members want the new election to take place as soon as possible.
But the ruling coalition has said it could delay the elections until the summer.