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Chisinau In Limbo As Moldovan Court Delays Hearing On Mayoral Election

Mayor-elect Andrei Nastase
Mayor-elect Andrei Nastase

CHISINAU -- A court in Moldova's capital has postponed a confirmation hearing for pro-European Mayor-elect Andrei Nastase, whose election two weeks ago has been challenged by opponents.

Supporters of Nastase rallied outside as Chisinau City Court postponed the hearing on June 18 after the Chisinau District Electoral Council filed a motion to replace the judge. The court did not set a new date.

It was the second postponement of the hearing for Nastase, an advocate of closer ties with the European Union and a self-described "anti-oligarch" politician.

Nastase, the Dignity and Truth Platform candidate, defeated the candidate of the Moscow-friendly Socialist Party, Ion Ceban, in a runoff on June 3.

Ceban won nearly 41 percent of vote in the first round on May 20 to 32 percent for Nastase, but a runoff was held because no candidate won more than 50 percent.

On June 15, the court postponed the hearing to June 18 after the Socialist Party filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, alleging electoral violations.

Nastase supporters demonstrating outside the courthouse accused the authorities of intentionally blocking Nastase from taking office.

Early mayoral elections were also held in Moldova's second-largest city, Balti, where Nicolai Grigorisin, the candidate of the pro-Russia Our Party, won in the first round with 61 percent of the vote.

The snap elections in Chisinau and Balti were called after Chisinau Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca of the pro-European Liberal Party and Our Party leader Renato Usatii resigned to protest what they contend are politically motivated criminal cases against them.

The new mayors will serve for one year, until regularly scheduled elections.

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, is divided between forces supporting pro-Russian President Igor Dodon and those backing the government, which is pushing for closer ties with the EU and the United States.

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