Moldova's government falls after losing no-confidence vote

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldova's government coalition between a pro-European group and a Russian-backed party collapsed Tuesday after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament.

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Prime Minister Maia Sandu's five-month-old government lost the vote as 63 of 101 lawmakers supported the no-confidence motion initiated by the Socialists, her own coalition partners.

The parties in parliament now have three months to form a new government majority. Otherwise, an early election will be held.

Bordered by Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, plagued by corruption and political turmoil. The country of 2.7 million has been a politically strategic area for the West and Russia since it won independence after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Relations between Sandu's ACUM group and the Socialists deteriorated over her plan to take control of the process of nominating the country's prosecutor general, which Sandu says is key to her efforts to fight corruption. The Socialists wanted a special commission to choose the prosecutor.

A few hundred Sandu supporters protested her ouster at the legislature but no violence was reported.

"Today, it wasn't just the government that defends the interests of people that was betrayed, but every citizen hoping that justice will soon be done and their lives will be better," Sandu said on her Facebook page.

In her speech before the no-confidence vote, Sandu praised her government's anti-corruption efforts but said its short time in office was not enough for major changes.

"The only worsening of the economic situation is for those who have stopped their corruption schemes," Sandu said. "Citizens did not expect miracles in five months. They understand and appreciate a responsible government, consisting of honest ministers, who came to these posts to make people's lives better."

Sandu, a Harvard-educated former World Bank adviser who has also served as the country's education minister, took office in June after a long political stalemate that followed February's parliamentary election. She also had to overcome legal challenges by opponents questioning her government's legitimacy.

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