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News 28 Dec 12

Journalists Give Macedonian Speaker Rough Ride

Macedonian journalists booed and hissed the speaker of parliament, Trajko Veljanovski, and left the session he was presiding over in protest against their removal from parliament on Monday along with opposition MPs.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Macedonian parliament speaker, Trajko Veljanovski

The speaker of the Macedonian parliament, Trajko Veljanovski, faced an angry reaction from journalists on Thursday who first booed him and then left the plenary session.

The session resumed only in the presence of the government parties.

The opposition, which has started to boycott parliament, organized a parallel session for MPs' questions in front of the parliament building.

A political crisis in the country has escalated since Monday, when government parties passed a budget for 2013 in minutes after opposition MPs and journalists were kicked out of the parliament.

“I regret what happened… but given the circumstances I had to ask for the parliamentary security to establish order in the plenary hall,” Veljanovski told a news agency on Wednesday, explaining why the MPs and reporters were thrown out.

The Speaker said he did not give an explicit order for security to remove the press, but that security made the call, fearing more incidents.

Outside the building, Monday also saw a tense stand-off between several thousand people separated by a police cordon.

While opposition supporters protested against the government's plan to borrow money to cover the 2013 budget, pro-government supporters staged a counter- protest.

Media reported that at least 18 people were injured in the protests. They included three opposition MPs.

The opposition have since launched a boycott of parliament and called on supporters to stage acts of civil disobedience against the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his centre-right VMRO DPMNE party.

The removal of reporters from parliament has also drawn complaints from the Journalists' Association, ZNM, which called on reporters to boycott government press conferences.

The president of the ZNM, Naser Selmani, said the government has reached “the bottom of its irresponsible behaviour”.

On Wednesday, the ZNM asked the police to find and punish those who ordered and executed the removal of their colleagues.

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