The Moldovan parliament on Wednesday set September 5 as the date for a national referendum on a constitutional amendment that would introduce direct popular election of the country's president.
The impoverished former Soviet republic has not had a full-fledged president since Communist Vladimir Voronin finished his second term last year. Parliamentary elections in April and July last year left no political force strong enough to secure the 61 votes in the 101-seat chamber to elect a new president.
Acting President Mihai Ghimpu and his pro-Western government see direct presidential elections as a way past the parliamentary deadlock.
The opposition Communist Party, which won 60 seats in the April 2010 vote but lost its majority in the July election that was forced by parliament's failure to elect a president, continued their four-month boycott of the chamber and did not attend Wednesday's vote.
They argue it would be better to hold fresh parliamentary elections than the referendum on the constitutional changes favored by the ruling Liberal Democratic coalition.
CHISINAU, July 7 (RIA Novosti)