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Moldova s prime minister resigns

Moldova s prime minister resigns

Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev of Moldova unexpectedly resigned on Wednesday in a leadership shake-up that he predicted would benefit the country.

Tarlev, 44, a Communist, has been prime minister since 2001 and Moldova's longest-serving premier since the Eastern European country became independent in 1991.

Moldova, a nation of about 4 million people bordering Romania and Ukraine, is one of Europe's poorest, with about 600,000 of its citizens working abroad and sending remittances back home to their relatives.

During his time as Moldova's leader, Tarlev is credited with raising pensions and social welfare for the country's poorest. But he did little to improve the economy, and many enterprises in the former Soviet republic remain state controlled.

"I did a lot, but we must offer new people the chance to work for the well-being of the country," Tarlev said in a statement after meeting with his Cabinet ministers to announce his resignation on Wednesday.

He will remain Moldova's caretaker prime minister until President Vladimir Voronin, a close Communist ally, appoints a new premier.

The Communists control 55 of the 101 seats in Parliament.

"People are tired of seeing the same people every day in the same positions," Voronin was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency Interfax.

Moldovan political analyst Igor Botan said in an interview that Voronin is the leader of the country's communists and that he and Tarlev believe the resignation will allow them to give their party a new reformist image before the next national election, scheduled in 2009. Voronin has said the new Parliament must push for Moldova's membership in the European Union and resolve a crisis with separatists in eastern Moldova.

The separatists in Trans-Dniester, a small Russian-speaking enclave, broke away from Moldova in 1991 and fought a war with Moldova in 1992 that left more than 1,000 people dead. The enclave is not internationally recognized, but it receives support from Russia.

Voronin has moved closer to Russia in recent months, holding talks with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in February. Russia has 1,500 troops stationed in Trans-Dniester. They guard large weapons storage facilities left over from the former Soviet military.

Voronin reportedly said recently that a deal may be reached with Russia under which the Trans-Dniester region remains part of Moldova in return for Moldova's promise never to join NATO. Voronin also suggested that Moldova might leave GUAM, a regional organization set up with Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, which some say is anti-Russian.

Source:  The Associated Press 


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