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News 13 May 15

Ministers Quit as Macedonia's Turmoil Deepens

Gruevski's embattled government is heading for a mini-reshuffle after the Interior and Transport ministers and the head of the secret police - all heavily implicated in the illegal surveillance scandal - quit on Tuesday.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Nikola Gruevski, Macedonian PM. | Photo by: mia

Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and Transportation Minister Mile Janakieski resigned on Tuesday alongside Saso Mijalkov, the chief of the secret police.

A press statement said Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski accepted their resignations and had submitted his proposals for new ministers to parliament.

The resignations of three key figures in his government come against a backdrop of deep political crisis revolving around opposition claims that Prime Minister Gruevski and his cousin, Mijalkov, ordered the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including several ministers.

Since February, the opposition has been releasing taped conversations that appear to show that the government has been involved in a wide range of misdeeds and political tricks, including electoral fraud, abuse of the justice system and covering up for the murder of a young man by a police officer.

In many of the most incriminating tapes, these three officials appeared to be the main interlocutors.

"I hope that my resignation will help resolve the crisis imposed by the opposition with its anti-state behaviour," Mijalkov wrote defiantly in his signed resignation letter.

The three were among Gruevski's closest associates and had held their positions ever since Gruevski took power in 2006.

The resignation of Jankuloska followed an especially dramatic weekend that saw a two-day-long shootout between the police and an armed terror group in the town of Kumanovo. Eight police officers died and 37 were injured in the fighting.

"In these tough days, when Macedonia is in deep political crisis, it is time for me to resign, which I hope will help in resolving it," Jankuloska wrote.
 
The newly proposed Interior Minister is Mitko Cavkov, current head of the Public Safety Bureau, and the new proposed Transportation Minister is Vlado Misajlovski, the head of the public enterprise for state roads.

The mini-reshuffle will happen swiftly as the parliamentary session for the appointment of the new ministers is scheduled for Wednesday.

"This is no time for triumphalism. The resignations of Jankuloska, Janakieski and Mijalkov are not our ultimate goal. This is just a step towards the end of Nikola Gruevski," the opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev wrote on Facebook.

As calls for the resignation of Gruevski's entire government continue to mount, the Social Democrats have scheduled a major anti-government rally on May 17.

They have demanded that the entire government resign because of the serious allegations contained in the tapes.

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