Moldovan Constitutional Court Blocks President's Effort To Force New Elections.

Moldova's Constitutional Court on February 23 has blocked pro-EU President Maia Sandu's second attempt to nominate a prime minister, extending a standoff with pro-Russia legislators and hindering her effort to force early parliamentary elections.

Sandu had nominated Natalia Gavrilita unsuccessfully for a second time on February 11 despite parliament's earlier rejection of Gavrilita.

Moldova's legislature is dominated by lawmakers allied with Sandu's pro-Moscow predecessor, Igor Dodon.

The second nomination appeared intended to clear a path for Sandu to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

Sandu's former party, the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), hopes a new vote would leave them stronger relative to Dodon's Socialists.

A U.S.-educated former adviser with the World Bank, Sandu defeated Dodon in November 2020 on a pledge to fight entrenched corruption and improve relations with the European Union.

Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries and is sharply divided between those who support closer ties with Russia and those who advocate stronger links to Brussels and neighboring EU member Romania.

Sandu has accused parliament of attempting to sabotage her presidency and says the current parliament cannot carry out her agenda.

Sandu has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Moscow-backed separatist region of Transdniester, prompting the Kremlin to warn it could lead to "serious destabilization.”

Following their initial rejection of Gavrilita, Sandu rejected a Socialist attempt to nominate a rival candidate, Mariana Durlesteanu, as prime minister.

Socialist deputies appealed to the Constitutional Court after Sandu again put Gavrilita forward.

In its ruling, the Constitutional Court said Sandu should have consulted with parliamentary factions before nominating a new candidate.

Dodon has responded with a call for Sandu to "immediately" nominate a new candidate for prime minister, saying in a statement on Telegram that deputies are ready to "do whatever it takes to get out of the crisis quickly."

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax

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