Macedonian political crisis breakthrough as PM agrees to step down ahead of early elections

By bne IntelliNews July 15, 2015

There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for Macedonia's protracted political crisis after key agreements were reached at EU-mediated discussions on July 14.

The leaders of the country's four largest political parties reached a deal on opposition to go back to parliament after boycotting it for more than a year, the appointment of a new government and early elections, Richard Howitt announced in Twitter. The elections were scheduled for April 24, 2016 and will be organised by a new government that will not be led by the current prime minister Nikola Gruevski, a key issue demanded by the opposition. On its part, the largest opposition party, SDSM, will return to the parliament in September and will participate in the implementation of the agreement.

“This agreement keeps the door open for the #Euro-Atlantic perspective and boosts #rule of law reforms,” Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, tweeted.

The four ledaers - Gruevski from the ruling VMRO-DPMNE, Ali Ahmeti from its coalition partner ethnic Albanian DUI, and the opposition's Zoran Zaev from SDSM and Menduh Thaci from ethnic Albanian DPA - reached on June 2 a preliminary early elections agreement and have been wrangling over key details since. 

According to Zaev, Gruevski has agreed to step down before the end of 2015 and a new government will be elected by January 15. The opposition will enter five ministries. SDSM will propose the new ministers of interior, as well as labour and social policy, and will appoint deputy ministers with veto rights in the ministries of finance, agriculture, and information society.

The agreement also allegedly envisages the election of a special public prosecutor to investigate the information revealed through SDSM’s project The Truth about Macedonia. We remind that in February, Zaev accused Gruevski of ordering a massive wiretapping campaign that targeted more than 20,000 Macedonians. Since then he has made many more allegations, and has been publishing taped phone conversations concerning, among other things, the current government’s involvement in the judiciary, media and key appointments. According to Gruevski, the scandal is a plot by foreign intelligence services, while Zaev claims he received the taped phone conversations from a whistleblower.

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