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Europe

Moldova's Communists narrowly lose parliamentary majority

Moldova’s ruling Communists have come up one seat short of a three-fifths majority. For the first time ever, they will need to negotiate with the opposition to find a compromise presidential candidate.

Moldova's president Vladimir Voronin giving a speech before the elections

Outgoing Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin is Europe's only communist leader

Moldova's Central Electoral Commission says the Communist Party in the former Soviet republic has lost its parliamentary majority after Sunday's elections. Official results now give the party of outgoing President Vladimir Voronin, just 60 out of 101 seats in the new parliament, instead of the initial count of 61.

The loss of the one seat means that the opposition, with 41 seats, have enough votes to block the naming of a successor to Voronin, who must step down after serving two terms in office.

The Liberal Party and the Liberal Democratic Party each won 15 seats; the Our Moldova Party secured 11. Thel electoral commission has also agreed to allow opposition parties contesting the polls to check voter lists.

Moldovan authorities keep Romanian media out

Map of Moldova

The Moldovan capital, Chisinau, was rocked by anti-communist demonstrations earlier in the week

Moldova's officials have said they will expel three Romanian journalists from the former Soviet republic.

Several press freedom organisations, including Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have also criticized a decision to prevent 19 Romanian journalists from entering the country earlier this week to cover Tuesday's riots in the capital, Chisinau.

Moldovan border guards denied entry to the journalists after accusing Bucharest of stoking a coup attempt. Up to 270 people were wounded and almost 200 were arrested during the unrest.

On Wednesday, authorities closed the border to Romania and expelled the country's ambassador. A spokesman for Moldova's interior ministry said that most police forces had left the government district in Chisinau and that the situation was again under control.

Russian concerns over political divisions

Moscow has been closely observing the developments in Moldova. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the United States against forcing former Soviet republics to choose between an alliance with Washington and Moscow.

Lavrov denied that Russia was seeking to establish spheres of influence, saying it was not appropriate to compare the violence in Moldova with protest movements that brought new leaders to power in other former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

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