Despite protests, Moldova court upholds decision to void mayoral election result

Andrei Năstase’s electoral victory was met by protests across Moldova. (Reuters pic)

CHIȘINĂU: Moldova’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld a decision to invalidate the election victory of a pro-transparency candidate for the post of mayor of the capital Chișinău, despite public protests demanding the ruling be overturned.

Hundreds and sometimes thousands of Moldovans have been protesting daily, since a court ruled on June 19 that Andrei Năstase’s electoral win was illegitimate, citing unspecified violations.

The scandal has brought more political turmoil for a country that plunged into crisis following a US$1 billion (RM4 billion) banking fraud in 2015, enduring successive government collapses and frequent conflict between the president and the government.

According to Moldovan law, the Supreme Court’s ruling is final and the post will be filled by an acting mayor until the next election in 2019.

Around a thousand people gathered outside the court to protest against the decision and chanted: “Revolution!”

Năstase, who has led a movement demanding greater transparency and accountability, says the court decisions were made at the behest of the head of Moldova’s ruling party, businessman Vlad Plahotniuc.

The press office of Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party of Moldova did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Plahotniuc has previously said negative perceptions about him were down to lies spread by his opponents after he entered politics.

Năstase, a former prosecutor, won 52.5% of the votes in the June 3 election. His supporters’ daily protests included a gathering of several thousand in Chișinău on Sunday.

The cancelling of Năstase’s win has drawn sharp rebukes from the United States and the European Union.