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Moldova election: Pro-EU candidate Sandu leads in preliminary results


image copyrightEPA

image captionMaia Sandu (C) spoke to media after polling stations closed

Opposition candidate Maia Sandu holds a narrow lead over current leader Igor Dodon in Sunday’s presidential run-off election in Moldova, preliminary results say.

With more than 99% of the vote counted, Ms Sandu is ahead with nearly 57.1% to President Dodon’s 42.9%.

Ms Sandu, a former World Bank economist, favours closer ties with the EU.

President Dodon, meanwhile, is openly backed by Russia.

Ms Sandu won the first round of voting two weeks ago thanks to a late surge is support from Moldovans living abroad but failed to secure enough votes for an outright victory.

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) show.

That number was continuing to rise as votes from abroad kept coming in. Of those participants recorded so far, about 54% were women and 46% men.

Polling stations closed at 21: 00 local time (19: 00 GMT).

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.

Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest nations and has suffered a sharp economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic.

image copyrightReuters

image captionPresident Igor Dodon has been in office since 2016

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”.

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