Around 2,000 ethnic Albanians held a peaceful protest in Macedonia’s capital Skopje on Saturday, demanding the resignation of Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
The protest organised by the “Besa” protest movement, which is dominated by Macedonia’s Albanian minority, called the rally against the government demanding the resignation of Gruevski and the leader of the junior partner of his conservative coalition with the Albanian Democratic Union for Integrations (DUI), Ali Ahmeti.
Ethnic Albanians make up a quarter of Macedonia’s 2 million-strong population.
Macedonia has been in political turmoil since the release of illegal phone records of senior government officials by opposition leader Zoran Zaev earlier in January.
With the release of the illegal wiretaps, Zaev began accusing Gruevski of corruption and electoral fraud.
Gruevski and high-ranking government officials denied the allegations, claiming that the recordings were completely fabricated and manipulated, while accusing Zaev of preparing of a coup against the current government.
Ever since accusations of corruption surfaced, Gruevski and his government have faced protests, generally led by opposition leader Zaev.
Another incident that raised tensions in Macedonia was on May 9, when security officials clashed with ethnic Albanians allegedly belonging to the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kumanovo. The conflict left 22 people dead including eight Macedonian police officers.
Following the Kumanovo incident, the international community stepped up peace efforts fearing that the 2001 conflict between the Macedonian armed forces and Albanian militants may be repeated again.
The European Union took on the initiative to organise political talks in Brussels between Macedonian parliamentary figures to agree terms to protect stability in the country.
However, the talks in Brussels failed to reach an agreement, with EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn stating the he was “very disappointed about lack of responsibility and leadership by some.”