Macedonian opposition wants pardon revoked, polls paused for EU talks

Macedonian opposition leader Zoran Zaev said Wednesday he will not take part in EU-brokered talks with the ruling nationalist Nikola Gruevski unless a blanket pardon of corrupt politicians is revoked and elections pushed back, media reports said.

"The first condition is that President Gjorge Ivanov must revoke the pardon ... and the other is to convene parliament to postpone the elections from June 5," Zaev told reporters in Skopje.

Ivanov last week announced the pardon of dozens of politicians implicated as corrupt or involved in alleged illegal wiretaps of thousands of Macedonians, including Gruevski.

An investigation into the allegations by a special prosecutor is the cornerstone of an agreement the European Union brokered last summer between Social Democrat Zaev and Gruevski, along with two ethnic Albanian leaders.

Early elections are the other key ingredient. Polls were initially scheduled for April 24, halfway through Gruevski's term, but were delayed to June 5 amid opposition complaints that conditions were still blatantly unfair.

Zaev and the opposition, however, say that conditions for free elections are still not met and want them pushed back again.

The opposition launched daily protests following Ivanov's pardon a week earlier. After violence on the first few nights, the demonstrations passed without major incidents.

Gruevski's VMRO party has refused to budge, has dissolved parliament and confirmed the June 5 election date. On Wednesday, Parliamentary Speaker Trako Veljanosli said that it was legally impossible to convene a dissolved legislature to change an election date.

This week the EU has summoned Gruevski, Zaev and the leaders of the two largest ethnic Albanian parties to Vienna on Friday in a bid to keep the agreement from 2015 alive.

It is not the first time, as the agreed process that was to culminate with fair elections was repeatedly delayed and hampered by Gruevski's side.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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