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Macedonia: President Calls For Political Talks After Parliament Riot


Belgrade  –  Macedonian President Gorge Ivanov on Friday invited political leaders to talks after ethnic tensions spiked following the storming of parliament in Skopje by protesters opposed to the election of a new speaker.

About 100 people, including no fewer than three legislators, received medical treatment after the melee on Thursday.

Supporters of the nationalist Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO) broke into the main parliament chamber and assaulted members of the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) as well as ethnic Albanian representatives.

SDSM leader Zoran Zaev had earlier announced that his party and its partners had elected ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi as parliament speaker outside of the regular procedure in order to break through VMRO filibustering.

Zaev was among the injured, while video from inside parliament showed him with a face bloodied from a gash on his forehead.

While all of the parties urged for calm, it was unclear whether the SDSM and the Albanians would attend the meeting with Ivanov.

Report says the president is an ally of the VRMO and had flatly refused to hand Zaev the mandate to form the cabinet in spite of having the majority.

The European Union swiftly condemned the violence in Skopje and urged the new government to take over.

“We consider violence always unacceptable, even more so when it happens in the house of democracy, the parliament,” EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in Valleta, Malta.

Macedonia’s parliament has been deadlocked since December, when snap elections failed to produce a clear winner.

The VRMO party won the most seats but not enough to govern outright.

Zaev formed a viable coalition with several ethnic Albanian parties but President Ivanov refused to appoint him prime minister.

Ivanov accused the SDSM and Albanians of intending to undermine Macedonia’s sovereignty by elevating Albanian to the status of the second official language.

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