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Despite Protests, Moldova Court Upholds Decision to Void Mayoral Election Result

Moldovans stage a protest in the streets and in front of a government building in Chisinau, Moldova, June 24, 2018.
Moldovans stage a protest in the streets and in front of a government building in Chisinau, Moldova, June 24, 2018.

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 Chisinau, 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 Nastase's electoral win was illegitimate, citing unspecified violations.

The scandal has brought more political turmoil for a country that plunged into crisis following a $1 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!" Nastase, 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.

"Judges are bastards. They are scared of Plahotniuc, but not of you, the people of this country," Nastase said after the latest ruling. "We will continue the protests until we win."

The press office of Plahotniuc's Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) 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.

Nastase, a former prosecutor, won 52.5 percent of the votes in the June 3 election. His supporters' daily protests included a gathering of several thousand in Chisinau on Sunday.

The canceling of Nastase's win has drawn sharp rebukes from the United States and the European Union.

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