Moldova's parliament has postponed a second vote to elect a new president, a move many see as a political maneuver to give the Communist Party more time to shore up support.
Moldovans have protested against moves by the Communist Party to maintain power
The official reason the Communists gave for proposing to postpone Thursday's presidential vote was to avoid having a "controversial debate" on a religious holiday – the Orthodox Church's Ascension Day. But opposition parties and political observers suspect the Communist Party was looking to gain time and secure the one last vote they need to elect their candidate, Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii.
The proposal came from outgoing Communist President Vladimir Voronin, who is reported to be planning to stay on the political scene after being forced out by the term limits, by becoming the speaker of parliament. Deputies then approved the motion.
"We took a break in order to have another chance for consultations with the opposition and try to elect a president," Voronin told journalists after the session was adjourned.
Voronin is keen to avoid another stalemate because if a second vote fails, the country must hold new parliamentary elections.
Moldova is a former Soviet state and Europe's poorest country. After the parliamentary elections in April, the opposition said the vote was rigged and stormed government buildings in protest.
"We are ready for negotiations but one of the conditions is that Voronin quit all his posts," said Serafim Urechean, head of the Our Moldova party. "The Communists have turned everything in the country and in parliament itself into a farce."
Editor: Chuck Penfold