BREAKING NEWS

Moldova leader nominates former finance minister as PM candidate

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By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) – Moldovan President Igor Dodon on Wednesday nominated former finance minister Ion Chicu to be the next prime minister in what is likely to be a Socialist Party-backed minority government following the collapse of the ruling coalition.

The previous government was brought down by a no-confidence vote on Tuesday, threatening more instability just five months after the pro-Western prime minister Maia Sandu took office promising to fight corruption.

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 the top prosecutor is appointed.

Chicu now has 15 days to form a cabinet, which then needs the approval of parliament.

“Using my constitutional right, I nominate a technocrat, a professional who has not been in any political party, as candidate for prime minister,” Dodon told reporters at a briefing after consultations with political parties.

The 47-year-old Chicu briefly served as finance minister under Sandu’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Pavel Filip, whose government she bitterly opposed.

Moldova, a country of 3.5 million situated between Ukraine and European Union 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.

If neither Chicu nor any other candidate is able to form a government that has parliament’s support within 90 days, another election would be called.

Sandu had partnered with the Socialists to remove a party run by tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc from power after an inconclusive election in February.

Moldova 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.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; writing by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Matthias Williams and Giles Elgood)

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