Macedonia postpones June polls

2016-05-19 06:15
Macedonia EU flags (iStock)

Macedonia EU flags (iStock)

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Skopje - Crisis-hit Macedonia on Wednesday postponed elections due next month, after the European Union called on Skopje to delay the polls to ensure they could take place freely and fairly.

The delay was agreed by parliament, which reconvened after Skopje's constitutional court froze all activities related to the controversial parliamentary polls scheduled for June 5.

A total 96 out of 123 lawmakers voted for changes of the electoral law, abolishing the part of it which set out the date for the poll in Macedonia, which is keen to join the EU.

Earlier Wednesday, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, welcomed the reconvening of parliament to decide on delaying the polls.

"This is a renewed opportunity for the country to address a number of serious issues at the heart of the prolonged political crisis," it said in a statement.

The election was supposed to end political turmoil in the Balkan country, but the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party was the only major contender to register candidates. Others said conditions for a free and fair vote had not been met.

The crisis erupted last year last year when opposition leader Zoran Zaev began releasing tapes that appeared to reveal official and widespread wiretapping, top-level corruption and other crimes.

After street protests on both sides, the EU stepped in to mediate a deal, but an election date initially scheduled for late April was postponed owing to opposition concerns about fraud.

The crisis deepened last month when President Gjorge Ivanov issued mass pardons to all those implicated by the wiretapping scandal, including former premier Nikola Gruevski.

The European Commission said the pardons "should be rescinded without delay".

Gruevski stepped down in January after ten years in power to make way for the June vote, and he told AFP last week that nobody had found a "constitutional way to postpone" the election.

Macedonia, which is also on the frontline of Europe's migration crisis, applied for EU membership in 2005 but has yet to open accession talks.

Read more on:    eu  |  europe  |  macedonia

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