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Moldova To Hold Presidential Election In October

Moldova's parliament has announced the country will hold a presidential election on October 30, the first time the public, and not parliament, will pick the head of state of the small, impoverished European country since 2001.

A court in early March ruled in favor of having a direct national election to choose a president rather than a vote in parliament -- a concession to protesters who have been demonstrating for months against the political elite.

The four-year term of the current president, Nicolae Timofti, expired in March, but he will continue to carry out his duties until his successor is sworn in.

In a related development, Moldova's parliament on March 31 approved a statement to pursue tougher legislation to punish those who undermine the country's "sovereignty, independence, and permanent neutrality."

The parliamentary action came after a large rally in the capital, Chisinau, on March 27 to demand Moldova's "reunification" with Romania.

Most of today’s Moldova was before WWII part of Romania, with which it shares a common language and culture.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service, Interfax, and Reuters