Thousands in Moldova call for government's resignation

Thousands in Moldova call for government's resignation

Moldova last month elected pro-European Maia Sandu to the presidency, earning her a surprise victory over pro-Russian incumbent Igor Dodon

Supporters of Moldovan President-elect Maia Sandu attend a rally to demand the government to resign and to hold early parliamentary elections in Chisinau. Credit: Reuters photo.

Thousands of protesters rallied in Moldova's capital on Sunday demanding the government's resignation and snap parliamentary elections.

Moldova last month elected pro-European Maia Sandu to the presidency, earning her a surprise victory over pro-Russian incumbent Igor Dodon.

After Moldovan lawmakers this week passed a bill transferring control of the country's intelligence agency from the president to parliament, Sandu called for her supporters to rally on Sunday.

She and her supporters say the goal of the legislation was to reduce the presidency before Sandu takes office and to boost parliament, where Dodon's supporters outnumber the opposition.

More than 5,000 people rallied on Thursday against the move.

On Sunday, more than 20,000 protesters gathered at the square in front of the parliament building, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

Demonstrators chanted "Down with Dodon!" and "We will not give in!" Hundreds of police cordoned off the parliament building, without interfering with the rally.

Protesters also called for Sandu to be inaugurated on December 10, the day the consitutional court is expected to officially confirm her victory. Her inauguration is currently scheduled for two weeks later.

"We cannot wait for the inauguration of the president on December 24," said opposition lawmaker and deputy speaker of parliament Alexandru Slusari.

"Igor Dodon will plunder the whole country in these two or three weeks."

Speaking at Sunday's rally, Sandu reiterated her call for the government to resign and for early parliamentary elections.

"Igor Dodon does not want to admit defeat," she told the crowd. "He wants now to set fire to the country, provoke chaos, drive Moldova into international isolation!"

At the last parliamentary election in 2019, Dodon's party secured a third of the seats.

During his four years in power, he enjoyed the strong backing of Moscow and supported closer ties with Russia.

Sandu promised during her presidential campaign to battle corruption in the former Soviet country of 3.5 million people, which is one of the poorest in Europe.

Wedged between Ukraine and NATO member Romania, with which it shares a common language, Moldova has long been divided over closer ties with the European Union or keeping traditional ties with Moscow.