Zaev calls attack in parliament 'attempted murder'

Macedonia opposition leader, injured in Thursday's violence, shuns talks and brands attack on him as 'attempted murder'.

    Macedonia's opposition leader Zoran Zaev said on Friday the assault on him and his fellow legislators in parliament was "attempted murder" and rejected the president's call for emergency party leaders' talks.

    Supporters of the country's dominant nationalist party invaded parliament on Thursday and assaulted opposition legislators.

    Zaev was among 102 people injured during the violence inside and outside parliament that followed the election of an ethnic Albanian parliament speaker. The head of a small ethnic Albanian opposition party and 22 police officers were also injured.

    Speaking at a news conference in the capital Skopje on Friday, Zaev accused former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and President Gjorge Ivanov of provoking the violence and claimed they were prepared "to sacrifice the state interest" for their own personal interests.

    An official in the Social Democrat party told AP news agency that Zaev would not be attending the talks that were scheduled to take place on Friday.

    Gruevski and his nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party ruled Macedonia for a decade until December last year when the election saw VMRO-DPMNE secure 51 seats in the 120-seat parliament - two more than the SDSM - but the conservatives failed to reach a deal with king-making Albanian parties.

    Although Zaev reached an agreement with the Albanian groups, President Ivanov refused to give him a mandate to form a government, leaving the country without a functioning leadership.

    An ally of Gruevski, the president expressed concern over the controversial demand of Albanian parties that Albanian be made an official language across Macedonia.

    Critics of the demand feared it could lead to the break-up of the country of about two million people - a quarter of whom are ethnic Albanians.

    WATCH - Macedonia Behind the Facade

    Speaking at his party headquarters early on Friday, Gruevski said the Social Democrats consciously violated Macedonia's Constitution by electing the new speaker despite the months-old deadlock in efforts to form a new government.

    "Greed to seize power at any cost is the direct cause which led to this adverse situation, and they bear responsibility for it," Gruevski said.

    Stalling departure

    Hristijan Georgievski, a political analyst, said the problem facing Macedonia was "not of an ethnic nature".

    "They are rather of a political, legal or be it criminal nature," he told Al Jazeera from Skopje.

    "What we saw yesterday was the result of a small group of people, presumably of the outgoing ruling party, feeding repeatedly off ethnic strife, hatred and disinformation in hopes of stalling or postponing their departure from power."

    Agim Nuhin, interior minister in the country's interim government, has offered to resign over the failure by police to stop the protesters from storming parliament.

    Macedonian police stand guard near the parliament building in Skopje [Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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