Moldova's parliament on March 31 voted to introduce a 60-day state of emergency to fight the coronavirus pandemic, a decision condemned by allies of pro-Western President Maia Sandu as a ploy to delay early elections.
The Eastern European country of 3.5 million has been in political limbo since Sandu defeated the Moscow-backed incumbent Igor Dodon in the presidential election last November.
Moldova had recorded 228,370 coronavirus cases and 4,915 deaths as of the evening of March 30. Acting Prime Minister Aureliu Ciocoi said the rate of infection had climbed to 635 per 100,000 over the past two weeks.
Ciocoi said the measure was needed to contain the rapid spread of the virus, reduce the pressure on hospitals, and give the government more powers to enforce lockdown measures that were being resisted.
"Two patients apply for every vacant bed," he told parliament. Fifty-two out of the 101 members of parliament voted in favor of the measure.
Sandu is pushing for a snap election to consolidate her power after accusing parliament, which is controlled by Dodon's Socialist party, of undermining her authority and her anti-corruption agenda.
Dan Perciun of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), which Sandu led before winning the presidency, said the vote was solely designed to delay snap parliamentary elections, which cannot legally be held during a state of emergency.
Sandu and Dodon have wrestled over the formation of an interim government, putting forward rival candidates for prime minister.
Sandu has asked the Constitutional Court to allow her to dissolve parliament in order to break the deadlock.