* Communist walkout leaves Lupu backers short of votes
* Ex-Soviet state faces more uncertainty
* Another parliamentary vote seen in December
(Adds quotes, background)
CHISINAU, Nov 10 Moldova faced further political
instability after a walkout by communists in parliament on
Tuesday blocked the election of the pro-Western coalition's
candidate as state president.
The vote for president -- for which Marian Lupu was the only
candidate -- was the latest attempt by the governing Alliance
for European Integration to tighten its grip on the ex-Soviet
state after defeating the communists in a July poll.
But the opposition communists, denouncing proceedings as a
"political farce", stymied the election of Lupu, a communist
defector, by leaving the chamber before the ballot.
This condemned the 53 Alliance deputies to taking part in a
doomed ballot since they were eight short of the 61 votes
required for a president to be elected.
Former communist President Vladimir Voronin has publicly
ruled out voting for Lupu, 43, whom he labelled as "a traitor".
But there are dissidents within communist ranks who may be
ready to support him in exchange for political concessions and
acting president Mihai Ghimpu said he was confident Lupu would
be elected next time round.
"We have to organise repeat elections for president and I am
sure that Marian Lupu will become that president," he was quoted
as saying by RIA Novosti.
The new vote should be held next month and deputies
informally suggested the date of Dec. 10.
If there is no result from that vote, Ghimpu must dissolve
parliament and call a new parliamentary election.
Though a former communist, political analysts expect Lupu,
if he is elected in future, to push forward with policies of
European Union integration and step back from relations with
former Soviet master Russia, on whom it depends heavily for
Since a pro-Western government took over, Moldova has
reversed policy and agreed to a $590 million bail-out programme
from the International Monetary Fund on condition it keeps a
tight rein on the budget.
The European Union has said it would start talks soon on a
new agreement for closer cooperation with Moldova once it penned
a deal with the IMF and dependant on enforcing reforms.
Europe's poorest country with an average monthly wage of
about $270 has suffered a sharp fall in trade and a drop in
vital remittances from Moldovans working abroad.
Any new leadership will have also to deal with the "frozen
conflict" in Transdniestria. The mainly Russian-speaking region,
home to much of the country's industry, broke away in 1990 and
is demanding independence. Chisinau is willing to give it
Moldova, a nation of 4.5 million, has been in political
deadlock since the communists won a majority in an April
election that was criticised by the opposition as fraudulent and
led to violent protests.
The pro-Western coalition emerged as victors from a fresh
parliamentary election in July that ended eight years of
dominance by Voronin's communists. Voronin himself was unable to
stand for a third consecutive term as president.
The communists, before marching out of the parliamentary
chamber on Tuesday, accused the new governing coalition of
flouting the law and constitution since coming to power.
"The ruling Alliance is leading an anti-social policy, is
violating the constitution, laws and regulations of parliament
... All this borders usurping power. We cannot vote for the
candidate of the ruling Alliance. We will not take part in this
political farce," Maria Postoico, leader of the communist
Oleg Serebryan, an Alliance leader, retorted that any future
elections in Moldova would be genuinely democratic.
"We will create conditions for participation by hundreds of
thousands of Moldovan citizens who, under communist rule, had to
go and work abroad and were deprived of the right of
expression," he told parliament.