Moldova election: Pro-EU candidate Maia Sandu wins presidency

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Maia Sandu: 'We have the right to choose what we want for our country'

Opposition candidate Maia Sandu has won Moldova's presidential election after a run-off vote against the incumbent Igor Dodon, preliminary results show.

With almost all the ballots counted, Ms Sandu has won 57.7% of the vote compared to Mr Dodon's 42.2%.

Ms Sandu, 48, is a former World Bank economist who favours closer ties with the European Union. Mr Dodon, meanwhile, is openly backed by Russia.

Final results are expected to be announced within five days.

According to preliminary results, Maia Sandu has scored an emphatic victory. Moldova's former prime minister said that as president she would make it her priority to tackle corruption and unite the country.

She faces huge challenges, not least dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the economy. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

But this was also a vote on whether Moldova should look east or west. Maia Sandu favours closer ties with Europe.

The defeat of the incumbent, Igor Dodon, is embarrassing for the Kremlin: President Vladimir Putin had openly backed him in this race.

Still, Moldova is a parliamentary republic. Presidents here struggle to get things done without a parliamentary majority, and that's something Ms Sandu doesn't have.

Late on Sunday, there were celebrations outside the opposition headquarters in the capital Chisinau where supporters chanted "President Maia Sandu!".

The former prime minister won the first round of voting two weeks ago thanks to a late surge in support from Moldovans living abroad, but failed to secure enough votes for an outright victory.

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As of Sunday evening, more than 1.6 million people - almost 53% of the population with the right to vote - were confirmed to have taken part in the run-off ballot, data on the Central Election Commission website (in Romanian and Russian) shows.

Voters had been able to cast their ballots in more than 2,000 polling stations, including those available for Moldovans living abroad, the central election commission said


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Maia Sandu has promised to tackle corruption

After casting her vote in the capital, Chisinau, on Sunday, Ms Sandu called for "maximum vigilance" against possible fraud. She has pledged to fight corruption in the former Soviet republic.

Meanwhile, Mr Dodon said he had voted "for friendship with the European Union, and the Russian Federation, and Romania, and Ukraine - for balanced foreign policy".