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Pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon front-runner in Moldovia's presidential race

Pro-Russian Candidate Igor Dodon Is Being Touted As The Front-runner In Moldovia's Presidential Runoff After He Bagged 55.3 Per Cent Votes Of The 97 Per Cent Ballots Counted Till Sunday.

PTI | Updated on: 14 Nov 2016, 10:22:39 AM
Igor Dodon - File Photo

New Delhi:

Pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon is being touted as the front-runner in Moldovia's presidential runoff after he bagged 55.3 per cent votes of the 97 per cent ballots counted till Sunday.

With 97 per cent of ballots counted till late yesterday, Socialist Party chief Dodon had 55.3 per cent of the votes, according to the electoral commission, with pro-European rival Maia Sandu on 44.7 per cent.

"We have won, everyone knows it," Dodon told a late-night press conference. Official results were due to be announced at 0800 (local time) on Monday.

The vote marks the first time in 16 years that Moldova -- wracked by corruption scandals in recent years -- is electing its leader by national vote instead of having parliament select the head of state.

Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, the tiny nation of 3.5 million people is caught in a political tug-of-war between Russia and the West.

Dodon had come out top in the first round of voting on October 30 with 48 per cent ahead of Sandu, a centre-right former education minister who worked for the World Bank, with 38 per cent.

The two candidates have diametrically opposed visions for Moldova's future.

Dodon -- who served as economy minister under a communist government between 2006 and 2009 is calling for deeper tiesand boosting trade with Moscow.

Sandu meanwhile urged a path towards Europe, calling for the withdrawal of thousands of Russian troops from the Russian-speaking separatist region of Transdniester, which broke away in the early 1990s after a brief civil war.

Moldova signed a historic EU association agreement in 2014, and half of its exports now go to the bloc.

The move was bitterly opposed by Russia, which responded with an embargo targeting Moldova's crucial agriculture sector.

"I and all my friends voted for Igor Dodon since hepromises to restore the strategic partnership with Russia,"said Vasilii Blindu, a 70-year-old pensioner in the northerntown of Balti. But Chisinau student Marcel Pruna, 22, said he backed Sandu because she will "carry out reforms in practice, not just in words".

Both candidates criticized the vote as badly organised,highlighting the shortage of ballot papers for overseasvoters.

More than 4,000 Moldovan and international observerswere on hand to monitor the vote. Turnout was 53.3 per cent, the electoral commission said.

The vote comes as a Moscow-friendly general also claimedvictory in ex-communist Bulgaria's presidential election Sunday, prompting Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to announce his resignation as his nominee was dealt a crushing defeat. 

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First Published : 14 Nov 2016, 10:21:00 AM

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