The presidential nominee for Moldova's ruling coalition has withdrawn his candidacy from an upcoming landmark election.
Marian Lupu, a pro-Western politician and the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, told journalists in Chisinau on October 26 that he was making way for former Education Minister Maia Sandu.
Lupu said Sandu was "best-placed" among pro-European Union candidates to win the October 30 vote against the main pro-Russia contender, Igor Dodon.
"This is a tactical decision. Moldova needs a pro-European president. Polls show she [Sandu] is more favored," Lupu said.
Dodon, a former communist, has called for deepening ties with Russia.
He said Lupu's withdrawal from the race was the result of "U.S. pressure."
Washington has not publicly endorsed any candidate.
Former Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, who signed a landmark Association Agreement with the EU in 2014, denied rumors that he, too, was going to withdraw in Sandu’s favor, saying he needed "more time" to think.
The vote will be Moldova's first direct presidential election since 1996.