KIEV Moldova's pro-Western government will face a vote of no confidence next week that could trigger an early election if the feuding members of the ruling coalition fail to unite against the motion.
The ballot was called on Thursday by opposition communists after Prime Minister Vlad Filat fell out with other leaders of the Alliance for European Integration who have called for his resignation.
According to parliamentary procedure, the no-confidence vote must be held on March 5.
The three-party Alliance has been working to integrate the impoverished former Soviet republic into the European mainstream since it ousted communists from power in 2009.
But rivalries, personal feuds and conflicting business interests among the Alliance's leaders have led to a political crisis that could endanger the signing of a political association agreement with the EU at the end of the year.
The conflict became public last month when alliance leaders accused each other of corruption, and state prosecutors have launched criminal cases against several government members.
The communists, who have 34 out of 101 seats in parliament, cannot bring down Filat's government alone as the no-confidence move requires 51 votes to pass.
But with support from at least one of Alliance parties and some of a handful of independents, they could succeed.
President Nicolae Timofti would then need to propose a new prime minister and if his candidate is rejected three times a new election must be held.
(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Louise Ireland)