Moldova’s government reshuffled ahead of presidential run-off

President Igor Dodon (C) meets PM Ion Chicu (R) and Parliament Speaker Zinaida Greceanii (L) to speak about the reshuffle.

Moldova’s PM Ion Chicu reshuffled his ministers ahead of the second round this Sunday of a presidential election that could potentially change the political weather in this divided country, news wires reported. He appointed five new ministers after his coalition partners from the Democratic Party (PD) redrew their ministers last Saturday.

Chicu appointed Olga Cebotari as the new vice-PM for Reintegration, responsible for the breakaway region of Transnistria, Anatol Usatii as Economy and Infrastructure Minister, and Lilia Pogolsa as the new Minister for Education, Culture and Research. He also reappointed Aurel Ciocoi to the Foreign Ministry and Victor Gaiciuc to the Defence Ministry. Both are advisors to President Dodon and  served in these positions in Chicu’s earlier cabinet in 2019.

The former PM and PD leader Pavel Filip has withdrawn his ministers from the current government “in order not to admit the appearance of a power vacuum.” “If the Socialists think otherwise, it means they are ready to take full responsibility for the continued governance of the country,” Filip told the media. The PD has been in a governing coalition with the Socialists (PSRM) since March this year.

President Dodon recently said several times that once the presidential election is over, the situation in the coalition will have to be reviewed, after the landscape has changed, and after the PD remained with only 11 deputies compared to the 22 it had when the coalition agreement was first signed. Many of these Democrats have since joined the Pro Moldova Party, led by the former speaker Andrian Candu.

The Socialists, which have 37 deputies, may form a new coalition with For Moldova, which has now 14 deputies. The group was formed by deputies of the Shor party, named after and led by the fugitive tycoon Ilan Shor, the main suspect in the so-called “grand theft” of a billion US dollars from the Moldovan banking system. Its deputies recently quit and formed the Pro Moldova party instead.

The political situation could change markedly after the election this Sunday when the incumbent Dodon, a strong supporter to close ties to Russia, goes head to head with former prime minister Maia Sandu, who espouses a pro-EU and pro-Western standpoint.

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