Macedonia's Ivanov blocks Social Democrat government

The move escalates a long-running political crisis which has paralysed Macedonia and once again raised ethnic tensions.

    Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov has refused to grant a coalition of Social Democrats and ethnic Albanian parties a mandate to form a government, further escalating the country's long-running political crisis.

    Wednesday's move came two days after opposition leader Zoran Zaev, head of the Social Democrats, had asked Ivanov to designate him as prime minister following weeks of negotiations in the wake of an inconclusive election in December.

    Zaev formed the coalition, which holds a parliamentary majority, after agreeing to support a bill to enable wider use of the Albanian language.

    RELATED: Macedonians take on government in massive protest

    That was part of a platform for negotiations agreed by the Albanian parties with authorities in Albania's capital, Tirana, which Ivanov said made the pact inadmissible.

    "As long as I am president, I will not give the mandate [to form the cabinet] to a party working against sovereignty," Ivanov said in a televised address, accusing Zaev of intent to violate the country's constitution.

    Macedonia has been in political limbo since a corruption and surveillance scandal broke two years ago, eventually forcing the veteran leader of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski, out of office in January 2016 after 10  years in power.

    Ivanov is a close ally of the former prime minister, who allegedly ordered the illegal wiretapping of thousands of people in order to cement his grip on power.

    'It's chaos'

    Commenting on Ivanov's move, an official from the Albanian Democratic Union of Integration (DUI), the single largest ethnic Albanian party with 10 parliamentary seats, said: "It's a chaos".

    The second biggest ethnic Albanian party, Bes, which has five seats, said it would hold an urgent meeting on Wednesday evening.

    In December's snap election, 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.

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.