Moldova's Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev has unexpectedly resigned, in a leadership shake-up he says is aimed at ensuring the "well being" of the country.
Mr. Tarlev did not elaborate on the decision, announced Wednesday in the capital, Chisinau, other than to say he wants to let a new team take over.
Mr. Tarlev, a 44-year-old communist, has been prime minister of the former Soviet republic since 2001 and is the longest-serving leader of the country since it gained independence in 1991. Parliamentary elections are set for 2009.
President Vladimir Voronin will nominate a new prime minister. The Associated Press quotes him as saying the new government must resolve the crisis with separatists in its breakaway Trans-Dniester region. He has also said a new government must push for European integration.
Russian-speaking Trans-Dniester declared independence from Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1990, but has no international recognition. Russian peacekeeping troops remain in the region, despite international agreements requiring their withdrawal.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.