UPDATE 1-Moldova president appoints acting prime minister

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CHISINAU, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Moldova’s new president, Maia Sandu, on Thursday appointed Foreign Minister Aureliu Ciocoi as the acting prime minister, a presidential decree showed.

A former World Bank economist, Sandu defeated the pro-Moscow incumbent Igor Dodon in last month’s presidential election, promising to fight endemic corruption and put Moldova’s relations with the European Union back on track.

Career diplomat Ciocoi was Dodon’s foreign policy adviser before taking over as foreign minister. Previously he was also ambassador to China and to the United States.

The government of former Prime Minister Ion Chicu resigned last week, paving the way for the formation of a new cabinet.

The eastern European country of 3.5 million, where the West and Russia vie for influence, has been rocked in recent years by instability and corruption scandals, including the disappearance of $1 billion from the banking system. (Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)