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Thousands March in Moldovan Capital to Protest New Government

Protesters chant slogans while blocking a main road leading into the Moldovan capital during a protest in Chisinau, Moldova, Jan. 24, 2016.

Thousands of demonstrators converged on the Moldovan capital Sunday to protest the newly appointed government and prime minister in Europe's poorest nation.

Chanting "We Are the People" and "We Want our Country Back" in both Romanian and Russian, protesters in Chisinau braved temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius to demand snap elections.

The latest crisis erupted last week, when parliament appointed Pavel Filipe as prime minister in hopes of ending months of political gridlock. That stalemate was sparked by a no-confidence vote in October against the previous government over its alleged ties to a $1 billion banking scandal.

Instead, the Filipe appointment sparked an opposition backlash and days of protests from residents angered by Filipe's close personal ties to influential oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc.

Critics describe Plahotniuc as part of the country's ruling elite, which has been targeted for its poor governance during the banking fraud, which saw a full one-eighth of Moldova's gross domestic product vanish overseas.

Filipe's appointment follows the rise and fall of two prime ministers in the past year. One of them, Chiril Gaburici, quit in June over controversy sparked by claims he falsified his academic credentials. His successor, Valeriu Strelat, was ousted in the October no-confidence vote.

On Sunday, opposition leader Andre Nastase demanded that the government set a date by Thursday for early elections or face public acts of disobedience.

There was no official government response to that demand by early Monday.