EU, U.S. Suggest Postponing Republic of Macedonia Early Election

  • Conditions for credible elections on April 24 `not in place'
  • Party leaders suggest June 5 as `possible alternative'

The European Union and the U.S. suggested to the Republic of Macedonia to postpone the snap vote planned for April 24 in order to ensure fair campaigning and elections in the former Yugoslav republic.

The country, which seeks to join the EU, hasn’t achieved an agreement on media reforms “to ensure a more level playing field,” according to the statement. The EU and the U.S. are “concerned at initial reports of pressure and intimidation of voters,” they said late Sunday in a joint letter addressed to Caretaker Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev, published on the website of the EU Delegation.

“The work of the State Electoral Commission to date and the findings of all relevant experts indicate that at this stage the necessary conditions for organizing credible elections on 24 April are currently not in place, although some progress has been achieved,” the EU and the U.S. said, suggesting June 5 as a “possible alternative” mentioned in talks with party leaders.

Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski resigned Jan. 15 to open the way to a snap vote to end the country’s worst political crisis in a decade that started ten months ago. The government came under pressure last year over the leak of alleged wiretaps that purported to show abuses of power by officials including Gruevski, which the government has denied. The administration endured further woes in May when police clashed with armed groups the government described as Albanian terrorists in the northeastern town of Kumanovo, leaving 22 dead.

The opposition Social Democrats said last month they won’t take part in the elections, accusing Gruevski of stalling key reforms that could have ensured fair elections, such as revising the electoral roll and changes in media law. Parliament was due to dissolve on Feb. 24 according to last year’s agreement.

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