Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 67

Moldova’s Constitutional Court yesterday ruled President Mircea Snegur’s moves to gain control of the country’s Defense Ministry unconstitutional. The Court found that Snegur’s March 15 dismissal of the country’s defense minister and appointment of another minister in his place violated several constitutional articles and other laws. (See Monitor, March 21) The clearest violation was that against Article 82 of the constitution, which stipulates that the president may appoint and dismiss ministers only on the prime minister’s proposal. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and deputies of the parliamentary majority, with the support of Speaker Petru Lucinschi, had objected to the president’s measure and challenged it in the Constitutional Court. (Basapress, Flux, Interfax, Itar-Tass, Western agencies, April 4)

Senior Moldovan officials told The Monitor that the vote was 4 to 3. The Court is less than fully independent. Its headquarters are, improperly, located in the presidential building by the president’s will. Three of justices are known to be personal supporters of the president, and it was predicted that they would condone his prima facie violation of the constitution. Snegur, whose prospects for reelection later this year look poor, had "dismissed" the defense minister, Lt. General Pavel Creanga, and "appointed" a personal supporter, Maj. General Tudor Dabija, in his place as part of a wider effort to ensure a controlled election. Creanga had been appointed by Snegur under the old constitution in 1992 and was considered loyal to the president, but refused to politicize the army in Snegur’s favor.

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