WASHINGTON -- The “nontransparent” decision by Moldova’s Supreme Court to uphold the invalidation of the mayoral election in the capital, Chisinau, represents a "threat to democracy" in the the country, the U.S. State Department warns.
"The court’s unusual and unwarranted decision thwarts the electoral will of the Moldovan people and damages respect for the rule of law and democratic principles in Moldova," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on June 28.
Nauert noted there were no calls to void the results from other participants in the vote, which was won by pro-Western candidate Andrei Nastase, leader of the Dignity and Truth Platform.
Nastase took 52.5 percent of the vote in the June 3 runoff election, defeating Socialist Party candidate Ion Ceban, who favors closer relations with Russia.
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But a court on June 19 voided the results, saying both candidates had used social media to call on voters to turn out to vote on election day, in what it ruled was illegal campaigning.
Days of protests by thousands of Moldovans who were calling for Nastase's victory to be recognized did nothing to convince an appeals court, which upheld the ruling on June 21.
And on June 25, the Supreme Court rejected another appeal, ruling that social-media communications with voters illegally affected the outcome of the race.
The ruling is final and the mayoral post will be filled by an acting mayor until the next election in 2019, according to Moldovan law.
At a meeting in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 25 told visiting Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip that elections "must reflect the will of the country’s citizens without political interference."
The European Union has also condemned the "nontransparent invalidation" of the mayoral election and said it "deprives the people of Chisinau of their democratically elected mayor."
Nastase and his ally, Maia Sandu, who heads the Action and Solidarity Party, have scheduled a protest rally for July 1 in downtown Chisinau.