EU Commissioner Questions Macedonia's Ability to Hold Fair Vote

  • President Ivanov ends corruption probe of top politicians
  • Opposition wants Ivanov to resign, protesters take to streets

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn voiced concern whether Republic of Macedonia will be able to hold fair elections on June 5 after a presidential pardon related to a wiretapping scandal rekindled street protests and renewed opposition calls for his resignation.

Macedonians took to the streets late Tuesday, Vecer newspaper reported in Skopje, after President Gjorge Ivanov issued a blanket pardon to all involved in a wiretap scandal that forced former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to resign Jan. 15 to allow the forming of an interim cabinet. Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party opposed Ivanov’s decision and the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Union Zoran Zaev demanded his resignation, MIA news service reported. Zaev said his party won’t take part in the ballot.

President Ivanov’s actions “are not in line with my understanding of rule of law,”  Hahn said on his Twitter account on Wednesday. “In light of these developments, I have serious doubts if credible elections are still possible. Political leaders must know that the actions we have seen recently put the Euro-Atlantic future of their country seriously at risk.”

The country’s parliament dissolved last week, paving the way to a snap vote in an effort to end the worst political crisis in a decade that started a year ago. At the time, Gruevski’s government came under pressure over the leak of alleged wiretaps that purported to show abuses of power by officials including the premier. The former government has denied all allegations.

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