Several thousand people turned out in Skopje and other cities in Macedonia on the night of April 18 in protest against president Gjorge Ivanov’s decision to grant amnesty to politicians regarding the wiretapping scandal.
The protests are in their second week, following Ivanov’s April 12 amnesty decision. Protesters are demanding Ivanov’s resignation and the appointment of a new caretaker government composed of technocrats.
The rallies passed off peacefully, with participants chanting “resignation” and “no justice, no peace”.
The government in Skopje said on April 18 that seven people included in the list of those that Ivanov had amnestied had submitted letters declining it.
Macedonia is scheduled to hold early parliamentary elections on June 5, a consequence of an EU-brokered political deal in June 2015 that was intended to resolve the political crisis around an earlier opposition SDSM boycott of parliamentary over what it alleged was electoral fraud, a crisis that deepened over allegations that the Gruevski administration had committed large-scale illegal eavesdropping.
Zoran Zaev’s socialist SDSM has said that it will not take part in the June 5 elections because it does not believe that they will be free of fraud and manipulation, as a consequence of the long years in power of Nikola Gruevski’s right-wing VMRO-DPMNE party.
At the April 18 protests, participants said that the voters’ rolls prepared for the June 5 elections included 200 000 to 300 000 fraudulent entries, which, in a country with a total population of just more than 2.1 million, could materially affect election results.
Radio Free Europe, quoting AFP, said that a European Commission spokesperson had said that political parties in Macedonia could hold talks with European Enlargement Commission Johannes Hahn to resolve the current crisis. Plans are for the talks to be held on April 22 in Vienna.
VMRO-DPMNE said that it would accept the decision, while a decision by the SDSM on participating in talks with Hahn is pending, the report said.