Pro-Moscow figure Igor Dodon claims Moldova presidency

Pro-Moscow figure Igor Dodon claims Moldova presidency

Pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon has won the second round of Moldova's presidential election, BBC reports.


With almost all the ballots counted, Mr Dodon, who wants to restore close ties with Russia, had 52.37% of the vote. His rival, pro-European candidate Maia Sandu, polled 47.63%.


The national vote marks the first direct presidential election in Moldova for 20 years.


Since 1996 presidents of Moldova have been chosen by parliament.


The election was seen as a battle between those supporting closer ties with Russia and those wanting integration with the European Union.


Speaking shortly after the closure of polling stations on Sunday, Mr Dodon called on Ms Sandu to preserve public order and abstain from protests.


"The election is over," he said, adding: "People have elected their president."


Mr Dodon, 41, was a deputy prime minister in the Party of Communists government before 2009. He blames widespread corruption in Moldova on the pro-EU parties that have ruled the country since then.


Both candidates criticised the vote on Sunday as badly organised, highlighting the shortage of ballot papers for overseas voters.


The final voter turnout was 53.3%.


Moldova, a former Soviet republic with has close historical ties with Moscow, declared independence after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.


It also has a breakaway region supported by Russia, Trans-Dniester.


It has moved to forge closer ties with the European Union in recent years, a course championed by Ms Sandu.