World News

Moldovan poll recount to take place on Wednesday

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Election officials in Moldova Monday set aside a single day, this Wednesday, to conduct a recount of a disputed poll after the ex-Soviet state’s president requested the procedure in the aftermath of violent protests.

Protesters shout anti-communist slogans during a rally in central Chisinau April 12, 2009.REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Moldova’s liberal, pro-Western opposition parties allege tampering with voters’ lists by the Communist Party, which finished far in front in last week’s parliamentary election in the country nestled between Romania and Ukraine.

The Constitutional Court ordered the Central Election Commission to carry out the recount after receiving the request from veteran Communist President Vladimir Voronin.

Voronin accuses his opponents of organising violent protests as part of a coup plot fomented by Romania, but sought the recount on grounds of restoring trust. The opposition demands a new election and has distanced itself from the violence.

“The procedure will take a single day,” Eugeniu Stirbu, election commission chairman, told reporters after the court voted to hold the recount. He said district councils would count the ballots and submit figures to the commission.

Stefan Creanga of the Liberal Democrats, one of three opposition parties to win seats in parliament, said most efforts would focus on the voters’ lists.

“One day is enough to recount the votes. On election day, it was done in three hours,” he said.

“For us, it is more important to check the lists. We are getting copies of the lists at the moment and will present a report on electoral fraud to the commission.”

Opposition parties allege the lists included many names of Moldovans who have died or who work abroad but had votes cast in their name on election day.

The opposition staged a peaceful 5,000-strong rally on Sunday alleging ill-treatment of detainees held since protesters ransacked the president’s office and parliament.

Results of last week’s poll gave the Communists nearly 50 percent and 60 seats -- one short of the number needed to ensure victory for their candidate when the assembly later elects the president.

Voronin, who has called for further integration with the West while preserving longstanding ties with Russia, has served two consecutive terms and cannot run again. He has said he wants to remain in some kind of decision-making role.

The president has moved closer to the Kremlin recently and applauded its efforts to help resolve an 18-year-old separatist rebellion in Moldova’s Russian-speaking Transdniestria region.