Tensions in Macedonia Continue to Run High as Vienna Meeting Approaches

Southeast Europe | April 21, 2016, Thursday // 10:06|  views

Protesters hold a poster reading `resignation` during a protest against Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov`s decision on wiretapping amnesty at the main square in Skopje,The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 15 April 2016. Photo: EPA

Tensions in Macedonia continue to run high as protests took place in Skopje for the eighth consecutive day on Wednesday.

Protests were sparked by last week's decision of Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov to pardon 56 politicians for their alleged involvement in last year's wiretapping scandal.

Ivanov granted blanket amnesty to both government and opposition politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Socialist opposition leader Zoran Zaev.

Protesters have been demanding the resignation of Ivanov, postponing the early parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on June 5 and appointing a caretaker government to organise free and fair elections.

In some of the previous days, demonstrations have turned violent, with protesters clashing with police and attacking offices of the president.

Protests on Wednesday were organised by the civic association “Protestiram” and the participants also called on the Constitutional Court to rule on the Special Prosecutor's Office (SPO) constitutionality, set up a special court for SPO cases and include NGOs in the process on resolving the political crisis in the country.

As in previous days, the protest started in front of the building of the Special Prosecutor's Office, expressing support for the institution. After that the protesters proceeded to parliament and were expected to head to the building of the government.

Protests were also held in Ohrid, Kocani and Kavadarci, the Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) informs.

These developments come as a meeting between the four largest parties is scheduled to take place in Vienna on Friday.

The meeting was initiated by European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn and three MPs and is aimed at ensuring that the parties return to the negotiating table and continue implementing the provisions of the Przino agreement that has been agreed in June/July last year.

In compliance with the agreement, Gruevski resigned in the beginning of the year, a caretaker government was appointed to oversee the holding of early elections and parliament was dissolved earlier in April.

Zaev has said that his party SDSM will not participate in the Vienna meeting unless Ivanov revokes the blanket amnesty and parliament convenes to annul the decision on calling the early elections on June 5.

The ruling VMRO-DPMNE party has criticised SDSM for its irresponsible and destructive approach to the meeting.

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Tags: macedonia, protest, Nikola Gruevski, zoran zaev, Gjorge Ivanov, pardon, amnesty, Johannes Hahn, elections, VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM, Skopje


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