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News 17 Jan 13

Macedonia Opposition Threatens Bigger Protests

Opposition Social Democrats threaten to intensify road blockades after Friday, if the government has not by then accepted their terms for taking part in the next elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Opposition calls on ‘resistance against the regime’ | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

If the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski does not show real interest in dialogue by Friday, the opposition says its supporters will increase the frequency and size of protests aimed at blocking key roads.

“The current form of blocking only one junction for half an hour is just a warning that ends on Friday,” the Social Democrat candidate for the post of mayor of Skopje, Jani Makraduli, said on Wednesday at a blockade in front of the Macedonian government building.

Meanwhile, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party urged the opposition to end its boycott of parliament and its threatened boycott of the next elections.

“Makraduli and the entire opposition leadership must not keep holding the fate and future of the entire nation hostage to a fictional reality,” VMRO DPMNE said on Wednesday.

Last week, the opposition said it will only take part in the March local elections if the ministers in charge of police, justice and finance are changed and if parallel general elections are also held.

On Saturday, the ruling party refused opposition demands to hold early parliamentary elections along with local ones.

Macedonia's political crisis escalated on December 24 when government parties passed a budget for 2013 in only minutes, after opposition MPs were kicked out of parliament.

December 24 saw a tense stand-off in Skopje between several thousand pro- and anti-government protesters, separated by a police cordon.

Opposition MPs have since quit parliament and called on supporters to stage acts of civil disobedience against the government, which they call an undemocratic regime.

On Tuesday, during a meeting with the visiting EU head for enlargement, Stefano Sannino, the Social Democrat leader, Branko Crvenkovski, asked the EU not to turn a blind eye to the continuing political crisis in Macedonia.

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