Macedonia Speaker Confirms June 5 Election

Speaker of Makedonia parliament officially sets date for early general elections on June 5, despite opposition warnings that they will not participate in any elections as matters stand.

Speaker of parliament Trajko Veljanoski on Friday signed papers calling early general elections in Macedonia on June 5 – after opposition parties led by the Social Democrats, SDSM, said they would not participate.

“I believe all participants in the process will contribute towards the elections running in a calm and democratic atmosphere,” Veljanovski wrote in a press release.

Veljanovski signed the decision in the presence of the public broadcaster, Macedonian Radio Television.

He made the move despite the fact that the opposition has said it will not participate in elections after parliament was dissolved with only the ruling parties present.

The opposition says key reforms that form part of an EU-brokered accord reached last summer, concerning media freedom, the electoral roll and measures to ensure that no pressure is put on voters, must be in place first.

The speaker signed the decision after a third night of protests in the Macedonian capital directed against President Gjorge Ivanov’s decision to scrap criminal investigations against 56 politicians and their associates.

The President’s abrupt move caused outrage among critics of the government and the protests in Skopje turned violent at times.

Five police officers were injured and one protestor was arrested at rallies in Skopje on Thursday night, the police said.

In his interview on the state broadcaster, MRTV, on Thursday, Ivanov defiantly said he would not revoke the pardons, which he said he issued for “higher, national interests”.

Meanwhile, the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party has said it proposes sending a joint letter from all four main political parties to Ivanov requesting him to reconsider his decision.

“All those who committed crimes must be held accountable. We will contact the remaining three parties during the day and offer them our proposal,” the ruling party wrote.

The opposition insists that VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski was, in fact, the man behind the President’s controversial decision to issue a pardon.

Former Prime Minister Gruevski was pardoned of five criminal proceedings while his former Transport Minister, Mile Janakieski, and Interior Minister, Gordana Jankulovska, were pardoned of 16 and 11 proceedings respectively.

Opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev was pardoned of two criminal proceedings.

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