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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Independence Party Wins in Moldova

KISHINYOV, Moldova -- Moldova's main independence party on Monday said it had clearly won the country's first post-Soviet parliamentary elections and vowed to preserve the country's sovereignty from both Romania and Moscow.

"This morning I feel like the leader of a ruling party," Petru Luchinsky, a leading member of the Agrarian Democratic Party, or ADP, told reporters.

Provisional central electoral commission returns from about three-quarters of the districts showed the ADP winning about 42 percent of votes for the new 104-seat legislature and the socialists 24 percent inSunday's poll.

The Popular Front, seeking union with Romania, which controlled most of Moldova before it was seized by the Soviet Union in 1940, had only 7 percent. Its twin party, the bloc of Farmers and Intellectuals, seemed set to get a similar share of the vote, Luchinsky said.

The ADP, backed by powerful agricultural bosses, has pledged to seek balanced relations with the Moldovans' ethnic kin in neighboring Romania rather than unification.

It has also undertaken to forge solid ties with former Soviet republics, traditional markets for Moldovan exports.

The programs of the ADP and the Socialists, dominated by former Communist officials, have much in common.

But the Socialists, whose supporters are drawn from among Moldova's Russian speakers, demand closer ties with Moscow and insist Moldova should join the ruble zone -- something which the Agrarians are resisting.

The Popular Front won the 1990 parliamentary elections and controlled more than a third of the seats in the old parliament.

Luchinsky said nine other parties which took part failed to reach the 4 percent required to win seats.

Turnout across the country was 73 percent.

Moldova gained independence after the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991.

The nationalists' aspiration for unification with Romania provoked resistance from the country's Russian-speaking minority. About 65 percent of the 4 million population are ethnic Romanians.

The conflict climaxed in 1992, when hundreds were killed in clashes between government forces and separatists from the predominantly Russian-speaking breakaway Dnestr region.

The Dnestr leadership accused Kishinyov of planning to merge with Romania and announced independence from Moldova.

The separatist province boycotted Sunday's elections, although about 5,000 left the region in cars or chartered trolleybuses so that they could vote at polling stations beyond the boycott.

Luchinsky was optimistic about Moldova's prospects.

"I can assure you that Moldova will no longer cause headaches for Europe," he said in a reference to Western fears that the former Soviet republic might succumb to ethnic conflict like the war in Bosnia.

"The parliament elected yesterday will concentrate on establishing peace in Moldova and on moving forward economic reform," he said at a meeting with Western observers at the elections.