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News 29 May 17

Moldova's Pro-EU Coalition Breaks Up Following Arrests

Moldova faces a political crisis after the junior partner in the pro-European coalition left the government, following the arrest on corruption charges of two prominent party members.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Moldovan PM Pavel Filip at a government meeting. Photo: gov.md. 

Moldova’s ruling Democratic Party, PDM, on Tuesday will decide whether to form a new alliance in parliament to regain its majority after the existing coalition with the Liberal Party broke up on Monday. 

The Liberal Party on Saturday said it was quitting the government coalition following the arrest of Dorin Chirtoaca, the vice-president of the party and the mayor of the capital, Chisinau, and Iurie Chirinciu, the transport minister. 

Chirtoaca, 37, who has been running Chisinau City Hall for 10 years, was put under house arrest after anti-graft prosecutors searched his office on Friday.

He is accused of soliciting bribes from private parking lot owners.

The Liberal Party’s most successful politician in 2011 defeated the current Socialist President of Moldova Igor Dodon in the race for the mayoral office.

The Socialist Party has been trying to oust Chirtoaca on corruption charges ever since. Party leader Ion Ceban on Monday said they had finally collected enough signatures for a referendum on this issue.

 A day after Chirtoaca was placed under house arrest for 30 days, anti-graft prosecutors also arrested Liberal Party Transport Minister Iurie Chirinciuc together with several other officials under claims that they had been obstructing public contracts for road rehabilitation.

Liberal Party leader Mihai Ghimpu on Monday said the investigations were political and came from the direction of the pro-Russian President, Dodon.

“Dodon is responsible for what is happening,” he said. “We have been and will be a target for the Kremlin. This is a geopolitical battle,” he said.

The ruling Democratic Party is now under pressure to form another parliamentary majority, and said a decision on this would be made at Tuesday’s meeting of the party leadership.

Prime Minister Pavel Filip on Monday said he would not name any new ministers until the central administration reform was complete. The government will until then number only nine members, as opposed to the recent full number of 16.

Moldova has been ruled by a coalition of pro-European parties since 2009. However, it has been undermined by an economic crisis, corruption and political scandals and mass protests over the embezzlement of a billion euros worth of development aid money in 2014.

After the resignation and arrest in 2015 of former Prime Minister Vald Filat, who is now in prison for corruption, Filip was named Prime Minister in January 2016.

His government counted five PDM ministers, four Liberal Party ministers and seven who were unaffiliated.

In December 2016, defence minister Anatol Salaru left the Liberal Party and the government after a row with Ghimpu and his position remained vacant.

After transport minister Chirinciuc was detained, environment minister Valeriu Munteanu and education minister Corina Fusu, both Liberals, also resigned. 

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