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Pro-Western Businessman Designated Moldova's New PM

Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti has asked a pro-Western businessman and former prime minister to form a new cabinet amid a protracted political and economic crisis in the former Soviet republic.

Ion Sturza, 55, who served as prime minister for nine months in 1999, said he would start talks with parliamentary parties on December 22.

Sturza said he wants to form a government with what he described as "professionals" rather than with politically appointed ministers.

Sturza, who has dual Moldovan-Romanian citizenship and business interests in Romania, told reporters on December 21 that he has "only one country," Moldova.

Moldova has been led by an interim government since late October, when a pro-European Union government was dissolved by parliament after a string of corruption scandals.

Sturza needs to get at least 51 votes from the 101-member parliament to have his new cabinet approved.