Macedonian PM Gruevski resigns before early election

PM Gruevski submits resignation to parliament presidency 100 days before early elections in Macedonia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski leaves after the news conference in Skopje January 14, 2016.

Updated Jan 16, 2016

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski submitted his resignation letter to President of Parliament Trajko Veljanovski on Friday under a European Union-brokered deal for an early parliamentary election to defuse months of political crisis.

The Parliament President Veljanovski confirmed Gruevski’s resignation but he said he will wait for the end of Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn’s meeting with four main Macedonian political leaders.

Johannes Hahn, who mediated the deal in June 2015, arrived in Skopje, amid concern that the opposition may seek to postpone the election, penciled in but not officially called for April 24.

“I will once again stress the responsibility of all political leaders to implement the political agreements and reform priorities in the interest of citizens,” Hahn said on his personal Twitter account.

“January 15 is a key deadline of the political agreement, the implementation of which is important both for the government and the citizens of the country,” Hahn said before heading to Macedonia for political talks.

“I expect that the outstanding elements of the political agreement will be resolved before or during my visit, allowing the election authorities to organise credible elections according to the agreed timetable," he added.

Hahn announced an agreement, which is known as Przino agreement, in mid-July intended to overcome the months long political crisis in Macedonia.

The document was signed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Social Democrat (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev, the head of the junior ruling Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Ali Ahmeti and the head of the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians (PDSH), Menduh Thaci.

Macedonian leaders agreed on June 2 to hold an early election on April 24, 2016.

One of the conditions put forward by Zaev required Nikola Gruevski to resign six months before the early elections, but it was rejected.

After almost a decade in power, Gruevski agreed to step down 100 days before the election.

The Macedonian crisis started in January after the illegal release of phone records of high ranking government officials by opposition leader Zoran Zaev.

Zaev accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of corruption, extensive government control over journalists and judges, meddling in elections and the appointment of party faithful to public sector jobs, according to the information gained from the wiretaps.

Gruevski and government officials denied the allegations, saying the recordings were completely fabricated, manipulated and claimed it was an attack on national security.

Early on May 9, Macedonian security forces clashed with ethnic Albanians, believed to belong to the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kumanovo. As a result 22 people were killed, including eight Macedonian police officers.

Protesters later hit the streets accusing Prime Minister Gruevski of attempting to distract focus away from the wiretaps.

After this operation, Zaev released another wiretap accusing Gruevski of covering up the death of a journalist in 2013, which led to more protests calling on Gruevski to resign.

On May 19, Gruevski and Zaev met in Strasbourg, France, for a 10-hour meeting about the crisis. However, they couldn't come to an agreement for a solution.

Leaders met on June 10 in Brussels to find a solution over the crisis, but they could not reach a deal and the commissioner expressed his disappointment about the lack of responsibility and leadership.

TRTWorld and agencies