Moldovan parliament approves Ion Chicu as new prime minister

Moldova's national flags are seen in central Chisinau, Moldova June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova’s parliament on Thursday approved former finance minister Ion Chicu as prime minister along with a new government composed mainly of ministers who support Moscow-backed President Igor Dodon.

The move came two days after a no-confidence vote felled the previous government of pro-Western prime minister Maia Sandu just five months after it took power promising to fight corruption.

Chicu, who served briefly as finance minister under Sandu’s predecessor, Pavel Filip, pledged continuity in Moldova’s relations with international lenders.

“The government will continue to fulfill all obligations of the state to external partners and international financial organizations, primarily the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank,” Chicu told parliament.

He said the current IMF program would expire in March 2020 and that the government was ready to start talks about a new loan.

Sandu, who wants Moldova to join the European Union, had formed an uneasy coalition with the Moscow-backed Socialists, formerly headed by Dodon, but relations broke down over a proposed reform of how to pick the top prosecutor.

The tiny former Soviet republic signed a political and trade agreement with the EU in 2014, angering Russia.

Brussels and the International Monetary Fund support Chisinau with aid, and the EU said on Tuesday it was “deeply worried” about Sandu’s government falling.

Moldova, a country of 3.5 million situated between Ukraine and EU member Romania, has lurched from crisis to crisis since the disappearance of $1 billion from its financial system in 2014 tarnished the reputation of its political class.

Reporting by Alexander Tanas, writing by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones