Communist victory confirmed in Moldova poll recount

CHISINAU Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:16pm BST

Protesters hold up their hands to represent their voting for a new election and the resignation of President Vladimir Voronin during a rally in central Chisinau April 12, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Protesters hold up their hands to represent their voting for a new election and the resignation of President Vladimir Voronin during a rally in central Chisinau April 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Sinyakov

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova's ruling Communist party was again declared the winner on Tuesday in the ex-Soviet state's disputed parliamentary election, in a recount ordered after violent protests against the initial result.

Iurie Ciocan, Secretary of the Central Election Commission, said the results differed little from the original figures issued after the April 5 election, which gave the Communists just short of 50 percent of the vote.

"The difference between the recount and original count is not significant," Ciocan told reporters after a Commission meeting.

He read out figures showing the Communists far ahead with more than 760,000 votes of 1.556 million cast in the country wedged between Ukraine and European Union member Romania.

Ciocan gave no percentages of the vote for each party.

But election officials later issued figures showing the same distribution of seats as awarded after the poll which spawned protests during which demonstrators ransacked Communist President Vladimir Voronin's office and parliament.

The Communists won 60 of 101 seats, one short of the number needed to elect their candidate when the assembly elects a new president as Voronin cannot seek a third term.

LEGAL CHALLENGE

Three opposition parties, broadly pro-Romanian, were credited with just over 35 percent in the original count. They won 41 seats between them.

The Constitutional Court, which must confirm the recount, is to sit on Wednesday, but could take several days examining opposition complaints before issuing a ruling. It ordered the recount at the president's request.

Voronin's office also said Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, would hold talks in Chisinau on post-election events.

Voronin, who says he wants to remain in a decision-making role, called for the recount after the protests which he described as a coup attempt fomented by Romania.

But he said the recount could restore trust in the country of 4 million and also called on legal authorities to declare an amnesty for protesters other than "criminal elements."

Opposition parties said they would challenge the recount.

"We, the three opposition parties, will challenge the result in the Chisinau Court of Appeal. We do not agree with it," said Nicolae Railean of the Our Moldova party.

(Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Jon Boyle)