News 28 Jan 13

Opposition March Targets Macedonian Minister

Several thousand opposition supporters marched in Skopje on Sunday, calling on police minister Gordana Jankulovska to resign and demanding early elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The banner reads "resistance against the lies of the regime"

Opposition marchers on Sunday demanded Jankulovska's removal as police minister, shouting “Resign!" and “It’s enough!”

The protesters said they see her as a key accomplice to the political crisis in the country - and to what they call Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's “suspension of democracy”.

“This is a country with an installed party-police regime. All power is concentrated in a small group around him [Gruevski]. They do whatever they please - both arrest, and judge,” the leader of the Social Democats, Branko Crvenkovski, said.

The march ended several hundred metres away from the police ministry. A police cordon prevented the demonstrators from getting closer to the building.

The opposition has been holding protests for a month. They say they will only take part in the coming local elections if the ministers of police, justice and finance are changed, and if parallel general elections also held alongside local elections.

The minister in question on Sunday said that she saw the protest as directed against the whole of the police force. “They are in practice protesting against 12,000 people who carry out their duty professionally and with dignity,” Jankulovska said.

Macedonia's latest political crisis erupted on December 24 when government parties passed a budget for 2013 in only minutes, after opposition MPs and journalists were kicked out of parliament by security and police.

Police minister, Gordana Jankuloska | Photo by AP/Boris Grdanoski

The day 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 their supporters to stage acts of civil disobedience.

However, Prime Minister Gruevski has accused the opposition of attempting a coup, and has rejected the the idea of holding early general elections in March.

The opposition last week announced intensified protests, including road blocks, after an hour-long meeting between Gruevski and Crvenkovski failed to bring the two sides closer to a resolution.

On Thursday, the Social Democrat’s secretary general, Andrej Petrov, hinted that opposition legislators will consider tendering resignations from parliament, to force the ruling parties to hold snap polls.

The opposition controls 43 of the 123 seats in parliament.

President Gjorge Ivanov on Sunday, meanwhile, asked for an “independent commission” to investigate events in and outside parliament on December 24, as a gesture towards reconciliation.

However, the opposition has already rebuffed the idea, insisting that it is clear what happened that day.

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