April 8, 2009 / 11:23 AM / 10 years ago

Moldova officials refuse vote recount: opposition

CHISINAU (Reuters) - A Moldovan opposition leader said on Wednesday that election officials had refused a request for a recount of a weekend parliamentary election won by the ruling Communist Party.

Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrats, one of three opposition parties that won seats, also said in an interview that his group had nothing to do with violent anti-communist protests in which public buildings were ransacked. He feared a crackdown by authorities and increased tension in the country.

Filat said the Central Election Commission rejected calls for a recount. The Communists were clear winners and are on the brink of winning enough seats to secure victory for their candidate when parliament subsequently elects the president.

“They have just informed us that the Central Election Commission has rejected this,” he said. They have broken off the agreement we reached with (Moldovan President Vladimir) Voronin.”

Opposition leaders initially said on Monday that agreement had been reached in talks with Voronin and other officials on a recount. But that understanding apparently unraveled later.

A top Commission official said the official count of the votes would be complete by next Sunday and that the opposition was welcome to submit proof of its allegations of vote-rigging.

“It is untrue that we have denied the opposition the chance to review (voters’) lists,” Iruie Ciocan, the Commission’s secretary, said by telephone.

“But they must present information on concrete polling stations where they believe there were irregularities.

“Only the constitutional court can cancel the results of the election. They have the possibility to prove irregularities and we are ready to examine them.”

DISPUTED POST-SOVIET ELECTIONS

Disputes over alleged vote-rigging sparked mass protests in several ex-Soviet states, including Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

In his comments, Filat said he expected “some very serious repression” after the president’s office and parliament were badly damaged in opposition protests on Tuesday.

“I am not ruling out arrests both of political leaders and participants.”

He said authorities should have made plain they were listening to opposition demands.

“If they behaved normally, like people in other countries, then they would have come out and said ‘We agree, we are open to cooperation, we are ready to meet your demands, to check whether the elections were conducted properly.

“If the police had acted according to law, professionally, nothing would have happened. It was clear that there were people there who were...aggressive. There weren’t that many of them, they should have been isolated.”

In the end, Filat said, authorities had achieved their aim of denigrating the opposition. “They have painted the opposition in the light they wanted to. I did everything I could to prevent this vandalism and destruction.”

All opposition groups, he said, needed to act to “stabilize the situation and not allow further destruction and vandalism.

“At the moment there is no point of thinking about our own protests. We need to solve this problem to stabilize the situation. “We do not need confrontation.”

Additional reporting by Dmitry Chubashenko; Editing by Dominic Evans

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