bne IntelliNews -
Protesters camped out in Chisinau’s central square will not quit until the Moldovan government resigns, one of the leaders of the Dignity and Truth (DA) civic organisation behind the protest said in a television interview late on September 7.
A demonstration on September 6 attracted between 35,000 and 40,000 Moldovans fed up with official corruption and angered by bank frauds exposed in 2013, in which $1bn was siphoned off from the country’s banking system. A few hundred hardcore protesters have remained on the square in a makeshift camp with 60 tents.
The demand for Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet’s government to quit is one of the few clear aims voiced by DA, which was set up in April. DA’s strong criticism of the pro-European Union parties that make up Moldova’s coalition government has fuelled speculation that it plans to transform itself into a political party, but it has also raised fears that protestors’ anger could be manipulated in favour of pro-Russian parties. There has already been an attempt to do this by pro-Russian communist Grigore Petreco’s extremist Antifa group, which held a parallel demonstration on September 6.
However, in an interview with Pro TV Chisinau, DA leader Andrei Nastase said there were no plans to create a political party. He also sought to reassure Moldovans fearful that their country could follow neighbouring Ukraine into chaos that there would be “no Maidan”.
The final signatory to DA’s April 2015 manifesto, Nastase had been elected a few hours before the Pro TV interview as the president of the Council of the Great National Assembly – an ad-hoc body set up following the September 6 demonstration. Surprisingly, more charismatic members of DA such as politician and political analyst Oazu Nantoi were not included in the ad-hoc committee. However, another high-profile politician, popular former education minister Maia Sandu, is on one of the assembly’s sub-committees.
Earlier, it appeared that DA wanted President Nicolae Timofti to resign to pave the way for the appointment of Moldova’s first directly elected president. Demonstrators also called for an end to political and judicial corruption. However, DA officials are now insisting on the resignation of the government and early elections - though they do not specify whether these would be presidential or parliamentary.
Rather than negotiating with the three pro-EU parties in government to reach a broad agreement on fighting corruption, DA has been heavily critical of the ruling parties. This has raised suspicions that the organisation plans to transform into a political party then run for office if its demands for early elections are successful.
In addition, there was no pro-Romanian note in any of the speeches at the September 6 demonstration, or from the DA leaders. There are reports that people carrying Romanian flags – which are very similar to Moldovan flags - were asked to leave the demonstration, although EU flags were allowed. Notably, some speeches were delivered in Russian, a language spoken by most Moldovans.
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