Macedonia's president refuses to give government mandate to Social Democrats | Reuters

SKOPJE Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov refused on Wednesday to grant a coalition of Social Democrats and ethnic Albanian parties a mandate to form a government, leaving the former Yugoslav republic no closer to ending a two-year-old political crisis.Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev formed the coalition, which holds a parliamentary majority, after agreeing to support a bill to enable wider use of the Albanian language.That was part of a platform for negotiations agreed by the Albanian parties with authorities in Tirana, which Ivanov said made the pact inadmissible."According to my oath ... I cannot give the mandate to somebody who threatens the sovereignty of Macedonia," the president told reporters.Macedonia has been in political limbo since a surveillance scandal broke two years ago, eventually forcing the veteran leader of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski, out of office in January 2016.

The crisis is the worst since Western diplomacy helped drag the country of 2.1 million people back from the brink of civil war during an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001, promising it a path to membership of the European Union and of NATO.In a comment to Ivanov's move, an official from the Albanian Democratic Union of Integration (DUI) said "it's a chaos." With 10 seats in the parliament the DUI is the single largest ethnic Albanian party. The second largest, Bes, which has five seats, said it was holding an urgent meeting on Wednesday evening.

In a snap election in December, VMRO-DPMNE won 51 seats to the Social Democrats' 49, leaving neither able to form the government without parties representing ethnic Albanians who make up one third of the population.The VMRO-DPMNE had already tried but failed to form a coalition.

Thousands had protested Zaev's deal on Monday evening. (Reporting by Kole Casule; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Published Date: Mar 01, 2017 11:47 pm | Updated Date: Mar 01, 2017 11:47 pm


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