Moldova elects president amid Russia-West tug of war

Chisinau: Voters in ex-Soviet Moldova went to the polls on Sunday to elect a president under the watchful eye of Moscow which wants the polarised country to remain in its orbit amid political and security crises on Russia's borders.

Pro-Moscow president Igor Dodon is seeking a new 4-year mandate, with his biggest challenge coming from longtime pro-Western rival Maia Sandu who wants Moldova to join the European Union.

Experts predict a second-round runoff on November 15, as neither Dodon nor Sandu are expected to secure an outright majority on Sunday.

The impoverished country of 3.5 million has long been divided between those favouring closer ties with the EU and those who cling to Soviet-era relations with Moscow. Although part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, the tiny country between Ukraine and Romania has close historic ties with Romania and its main language is Romanian. - AFP ��Q'�))*�6��kD���