Tuesday March 5, 2013
Moldova ousts pro-EU government
CHISINAU: The ex-Soviet state of Moldova sunk into fresh crisis on Tuesday when parliament voted no confidence in a government whose top ministers were implicated in ugly corruption scandals.
The vote effectively breaks apart Moldova's pro-EU ruling coalition. Scandal erupted earlier this year when a leading businessman was accidentally shot dead on a hunting trip with top government officials.
Managing the aftermath of the accident represented a huge test for Prime Minister Vlad Filat and his three-way coalition of Democrats, Liberal Democrats and Liberals. The alliance had run Moldova since 2009 after years of Communist rule.
Communist Party leader and former president Vladimir Voronin led the charge against the ruling coalition in parliament.
"There is not a single logical argument for saving an alliance that stands for European integration," he told fellow lawmakers.
"This government is responsible for impoverishing the people."
President Nicolae Timofti now has 45 days and three attempts in which to get parliament to approve his pick for new premier.
Several top members of the retired government are now under investigation.
Finance Minister Veaceslav Negruta is being probed over the payment of 400,000 euros in compensation to a businessman named Petru Sandulchai after a court decision went against him.
Culture Minister Boris Focsa is being investigated for the illegal privatisation of a historic building in the capital Chisinau.
And Health Minister Andrei Usatii is under investigation for using a hospital as collateral for a bank credit.
All could face several years in jail if found guilty.
Moldova - an impoverished Romanian-speaking state that borders Romania and Ukraine - has battled for stability since the fall of the USSR and also does not control the breakaway Russian-speaking region of Transdniestr.
Its current crisis was precipitated by a New Year's hunting incident where businessman Sorin Paciu was accidentally shot dead while on a trip with top officials who included prosecutors and judges.
The circumstances were hushed up for two weeks as prosecutor general Valeriu Zubco tried to conceal the accidental killing. He has since resigned.
Analysts believe that splits within the coalition about how to handle the scandal prompted one faction in parliament to start a campaign against government ministers. -AFP