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Moldovans Vote in Referendum on Presidency

Moldova held a referendum Sunday on whether the country's president will in the future be elected by popular nationwide vote.

Opinion polls ahead of the referendum showed the voters would reject the current system in which the president is elected by parliament. The opposition Communist Party has called for a boycott of the vote.

Former President Vladimir Voronin, a Communist, stepped down a year ago, ending eight years of Communist rule in the former Soviet republic.

But the ruling liberal coalition failed to raise the necessary majority in parliament to elect a new president.

Speaker of parliament Mihai Ghimpu, a member of the pro-Western ruling coalition, has been acting president for the past year.

If the referendum is successful, Prime Minister Vlad Filat and center-left politician Marian Lupu are expected to run for president.

Filat said Sunday the ruling alliance expects the referendum will enable holding early presidential and parliamentary election in November.

More than 2.6 people are eligible to vote in Moldova, which is one of the poorest European countries. One third of the voters must cast ballots for the vote to be valid.

Communists prefer the current system of voting for president through parliament where they have majority.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.