Macedonia Protests Demanding President's Resignation Continue

Southeast Europe | April 16, 2016, Saturday // 09:35|  views

Thousands took to the streets of Macedonian capital Skopje on Friday evening, in the fourth protest following the President's decision to grant a blanket amnesty in a wiretapping affair.

The rally went peacefully ending in front of the government headquarters, local media report.

Organized by the Protestiram ("I Protest") civic movement, it also included the buildings of the special prosecutor's office (investigating into the affair), and communication's office of President Gjorge Ivanov.

The crowd also tried to approach Parliament and the headquarters of the main ruling VMRO-DPMNE party, but was not allowed to do so as police had cordoned off the area.

Protesters also called for a postponement of the early parliamentary election scheduled for June 05.

The decision to hold the vote was confirmed on Friday by the country's Parliament Speaker, Trajko Veljanoski, amid statements by the European Union and the United States - but also some Macedonian parties - saying the vote should be postponed. Demonstrators have been insisting a technical government should be formed to prepare it.

Also on Friday, after Veljanoski signed the decree, the state electoral commission (DIK) announced all conditions had been met that would secure transparent, fair and democratic elections on June 05. Its chairman and several members, appointed out of the socialist opposition SDSM's quota, were not present at the Friday meeting of the commission, according to daily Utrinski vesnik.

SDSM has been calling for the vote to be rescheduled for months. An initial agreement among political leaders, brokered by the EU and the US last year, paved the way for the resignation of then PM Nikola Gruevski and for an early vote to take place in April, but the date was moved to June after concerns raised by both SDSM and the brokers.

Last year's political crisis began after socialist leader Zoran Zaev leaked wiretapped recordings of conversations of Gruevski with officials allegedly exposing mass surveillance conducted on politicians, magistrates, journalists, and others.

On Tuesday, President Ivanov announced he was halting proceedings against 56 over the wiretapping affair, drawing fire from all parties, including Gruevski's VMRO-DPMNE.

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Tags: macedonia, amnesty, wiretapping, VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, Nikola Gruevski, zoran zaev, Gjorge Ivanov, protests


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