CHISINAU -- Some 20,000 protesters backing Moldova's incoming pro-EU president have taken to the streets of the capital demanding the government's resignation and early general elections.
The demonstrators gathered at the square in front of the parliament building in Chisinau on December 6, shouting slogans such as “We are the people!" and "To prison!"
The rally was called by President-elect Maia Sandu, who favors closer ties with the European Union, after lawmakers passed a bill transferring control of the country's intelligence agency from the president to parliament.
The intelligence agency change came weeks after Sandu defeated the Russia-backed incumbent Igor Dodon in last month's presidential election.
Sandu and her supporters say the goal of the legislation is to weaken the presidency before she takes office on December 24 and to boost parliament, where pro-Moscow Socialists aligned with Dodon outnumber the opposition.
In June 2019, the Socialists voted to transfer the control of the intelligence service from parliament to Dodon.
Addressing the rally, Sandu reiterated her call for the government of Prime Minister Ion Chicu to resign and for snap parliamentary polls.
"Igor Dodon does not want to admit defeat," she told the crowd. "He wants now to set fire to the country, provoke chaos, [and] drive Moldova into international isolation!"
She also accused parliament of trying to sabotage her ability to fight corruption, saying: "This majority adopts laws that strip the powers of the president so that we cannot fight corruption and thieves."
"We will go to the end until we cleanse the country of corrupt officials," Sandu added.
Sandu, a former World Bank economist, promised during her presidential campaign to battle endemic corruption in Moldova, the poorest countries in Europe.
Since the election she has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Moscow-backed separatist region of Transdniester, prompting the Kremlin to warn it could lead to "serious destabilization.”