15,000 Protest for Election in Moldova

15,000 Protest for Election in Moldova

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) -- More than 15,000 people held an anti-government protest Sunday in the Moldovan capital to demand an early election in the impoverished Eastern European nation.

Protesters in Chisinau shouted "We want the country back!" and "Unity, citizens!" in Romanian and Russian and blocked a main road out of the capital as temperatures fell to -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). The rally was organized by two pro-Russian parties and the civic group Dignity and Truth.

Protesters earlier marched toward the Constitutional Court and the leader of the Socialists' Party, Igor Dodon, urged them to block one of the main entrances to the city of one million. Dignity and Truth leader Andrei Nastase called on the government to announce by Jan. 28 that it would hold an early election or face acts of civil disobedience.

The demonstrators are angry about falling living standards that have left the average monthly salary is just 220 euros ($240). They say pro-European parties, which have been in power since 2009, have failed to carry out reforms and want Parliament dissolved and an early election held. They are also calling for a full inquiry into the disappearance of up to $1.5 billion from three banks in Moldova prior to the country's parliamentary election in 2014.

Sunday's protest came after demonstrators stormed Parliament last week as lawmakers approved a new pro-European government. Thousands held anti-government demonstrations for three straight days.

New Prime Minister Pavel Filip will visit Bucharest on Jan. 26, his office said Sunday. Romania is Moldova's closest ally.