Pro-EU candidate Maia Sandu wins Moldova presidential run-off: preliminary results

Moldova opposition candidate Maia Sandu, who favours closer ties with the EU, promised to unite the country and tackle corruption as she looked on course to beat pro-Moscow incumbent Igor Dodon in a presidential run-off on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Workers at Sandu's campaign office chanted "victory" after the former World Bank economist won 53.38% of votes compared to 46.62% for Dodon, with 96.55% of ballots counted. An exit poll had put Sandu on 54.8% of votes compared to 45.2% for Dodon.

Dodon, who on Friday had called on supporters to take to the streets if he felt the election was stolen from him, on Facebook said: "I urge everyone to calm, regardless of the election results."

Sandu, 48, finished ahead in the first round two weeks ago with a late surge in support from voters living abroad, but failed to secure enough votes for outright victory. Known for her tough stance on corruption, Sandu led a short-lived government last year that was felled by a no-confidence vote. Now she is likely to seek a snap parliamentary election to consolidate power because parliament is controlled by the Socialists, Dodon's former party.

The West and Russia vie for influence in the former Soviet republic of 3.5m, which is one of Europe's poorest nations and has suffered a sharp economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU forged a deal on closer trade and political ties with Moldova in 2014, but became increasingly critical of its record on reforms.

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