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News 11 Oct 16

Thousands March Against Macedonian Government

Thousands of people joined an anti-government protest march in Skopje, as Macedonia celebrated 75 years since the start of an anti-fascist uprising during World War II.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Photo by: Anadolu

Some 15,000 people marched through the streets of Skopje on Tuesday, led by the opposition Social Democrats in alliance with the Association of WWII Veterans and other NGOs and prominent activists.

The march, held two months before planned pre-term general elections on December 11, was intended to symbolise the fight against oppression, whether external as in World War II, or by internal forces, by which the opposition meant the ruling VMRO DPMNE party and its leader Nikola Gruevski, which it accuses of authoritarianism.

The march started in Skopje's Karposh district, where participants waved Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Roma and other flags in a show of unity, chanting "Freedom" and "No justice, no peace".

The march continued along the city’s boulevards and passed by the headquarters of the Special Prosecution, where people expressed their support for the newly-formed institution which is tasked with investigate high-level crime among ruling officials and their associates, as allegedly exposed by wiretapped recordings released last year by the opposition.

"We are marching for the return of the country to the hands of the citizens. We are taking it back from the family of [former PM and ruling VMRO DPMNE leader] Nikola Gruevski. We are marching for the return of the money they stole. Everything they stole, we will return,” opposition leader Zoran Zaev told the demonstrators in front of parliament, where the march ended.

Zaev said he wanted a fight without violence, using the ballot box to defeat the VMRO DPMNE and Gruevski.

"Today we marched for decent wages that will allow life, not just survival, and for satisfied workers and strong companies. We are writing history, toppling a regime, getting back our freedom," he told the demonstration.

Photo by: Anadolu

The marchers were also addressed by representatives of the Association of WWII Veterans, student movements and civil rights activists.

In front of the parliament building, the demonstrators cheered as the socialist anthem ‘Bandiera Rossa’ and Bob Marley’s ‘Get up, Stand Up’ were played.

Macedonian Partisan songs symbolic of the fight against fascism during WWII were also played.

The long-running Macedonian political crisis revolves around the opposition's mass wiretapping allegations.

In February 2015, the opposition started releasing batches of covertly recorded tapes, which it said showed that the VMRO DPMNE-led government had been behind the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including ministers.

It also said the tapes proved many criminal allegations against government members, including election rigging.

The revelation of the tapes sparked a deep political crisis that is still ongoing.

VMRO DPMNE chief Nikola Gruevski, who was prime minister from 2006 until he resigned earlier this year under an EU-brokered deal aimed at ending the crisis, has said the tapes were “fabricated” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise the country.

The Special Prosecution was established last year as a result of the EU-brokered deal to investigate high-level crime and corruption.

Photo by: Anadolu

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