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News 22 Sep 17

Moldova Socialists to Protest Over Scrapped Referendum

Socialist supporters of the President in Moldova are set to take to the streets to protest over a Constitutional Court ruling, scrapping a referendum that aimed to allow the pro-Russian President to dissolve the pro-Western parliament.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Moldovan president Igor Dodon. Photo: Igor Dodon/Facebook

Several cities in Moldova are bracing for demonstrations, as Socialist supporters of the pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, get ready to take to the streets on Sunday.

They will protest against a decision of the Constitutional Court that annulled a referendum that would have allowed the head of state to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

Dodon was elected President in November 2016, in Moldova’s first direct presidential election in a decade, defeating the pro-European candidate, Maia Sandu.

However, the Socialists are still in opposition in parliament, which is dominated by the pro-EU Democratic Party, led by the controversial oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc.

On March 28, Dodon signed a decree setting September 24 as the date of a consultative referendum which, if he won, would have expanded his power and given him the prerogative to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

The referendum would also seek voters’ opinion on lowering the number of MPs and on replacing the study of Romanian history in schools with Moldovan history.

Although the Electoral Commission approved the date of the referendum and estimated its cost at 3.5 million euros, Prime Minister Pavel Filip announced that the government would not cover the costs.

At the end of July, the Constitutional Court then declared the referendum unconstitutional, arguing that the President had no right to call it. Dodon said the judges only ruled against him because “they were Romanian”, however.

The President has called for street protests on the planned day of the referendum, September 24, but has also said that demonstrations will not take place in the capital, Chisinau.

The Socialist Party earlier this month said it supported the President and that its members will protests in the cities of Balti, Anenii Noi and Cahul.

The government in breakaway Transnistria has warned residents of the region not to travel to Moldova during September 23-25, during the time of the expected protests, saying clashes are to be expected.

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