Supporters of the government shout slogans outside Moldova’s parliament during a rally in Chisinau, Moldova, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)

Supporters of the government shout slogans outside Moldova’s parliament during a rally in Chisinau, Moldova, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)

Government of Ukraine’s neighbor, Moldova, collapses

The country has been strategic for the West and Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

By Corneliu Rusnac / Associated Press

CHISINAU, Moldova — Moldova’s government coalition between a pro-European group and a Russian-backed party collapsed Tuesday after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Prime Minister Maia Sandu’s government lost the vote as 63 of 101 lawmakers supported the no-confidence motion.

The parties in parliament now have three months to form a new government majority. Otherwise, an early election will be held.

Bordered by Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, plagued by corruption and political turmoil. The country of 2.7 million has been a politically strategic area for the West and Russia since it won independence after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Relations between Sandu’s ACUM group and the Socialists deteriorated over her plan to take control of the process of nominating the country’s prosecutor general, which Sandu says is key to her efforts to fight corruption. The Socialists wanted a special commission to choose the prosecutor.

A few hundred Sandu supporters protested her ouster at the legislature but no violence was reported.

“Today, it wasn’t just the government that defends the interests of people that was betrayed, but every citizen hoping that justice will soon be done and their lives will be better,” Sandu said on her Facebook page.

In her speech before the no-confidence vote, Sandu praised her government’s anti-corruption efforts but said its short time in office was not enough for major changes.

“The only worsening of the economic situation is for those who have stopped their corruption schemes,” Sandu said. “Citizens did not expect miracles in five months. They understand and appreciate a responsible government, consisting of honest ministers, who came to these posts to make people’s lives better.”

Sandu took office in June after legal challenges questioning her government’s legitimacy.

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