Moldova's Leader Nominates First Female Prime Minister

Www.nm.mdGreceanii
CHISINAU, Moldova -- Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has nominated an economist and former finance minister to become the country's first female prime minister.

Russian-born Zinaida Greceanii, 52, a member of Voronin's Communist Party, is expected to receive the required parliamentary approval, where the communists hold 55 out of the 101 seats.

She would replace Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev who unexpectedly resigned Wednesday in a leadership shakeup that Tarlev predicted would benefit the country by creating a new government with more public appeal.

Tarlev, 44, a Communist, had been prime minister since 2001 and Moldova's longest-serving prime minister since Moldova became independent in 1991.

Greceanii served as finance minister from 2002 to 2005, when she was appointed deputy prime minister, a post she has held since.

In 2006, the economist negotiated the price of natural gas with Gazprom. Under the five-year deal, Moldova, one of Europe's poorest nations, will gradually pay more for natural gas until 2011, when it will pay the European average gas price.

The average monthly salary in Moldova is 2,200 leu ($210).

Greceanii has 15 days to present a new government to the parliament, which will then vote on whether to approve the new Cabinet.

Moldova, a nation of about 4 million people bordering Romania and Ukraine, is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in March 2009.

Moldova has moved closer to Russia in recent weeks, and Voronin is seeking to improve the weak economy and to resolve a dispute with the Transdnestr region which declared independence in 1991.