Macedonians Protests Continue as EU Cancels Crisis Talks

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Source:   —  April 22, 2016, at 1:03 AM

President Gjorge Ivanov latest week issued pardons for politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and opposition boss Zoran Zaev, before a June five early election.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at two rival protests in Macedonia'south capital on Thursday as a political crisis deepened in the tiny Balkan state after the country'south president pardoned dozens of politicians who were facing criminal proceedings for alleged involvement in a wiretapping scandal.

President Gjorge Ivanov latest week issued pardons for politicians, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and opposition boss Zoran Zaev, before a June five early election. The move has reignited simmering political turmoil and prompted daily protests.

The eighty groups organizing the anti-government protests demand that the president revoke the decision and to step down. They're also calling for the postponement of the early election and the formation of a caretaker government to prepare for a free and fair vote.

On the other side, tens of thousands of government supporters protested in front of the parliament building in Skopje, urging for the early vote to go ahead.

Revolt police deployed in downtown Skopje separated the two groups. Protests were also held in five other Macedonian towns. The protests ended peacefully.

Senior EU executive declare talks between Macedonian political leaders and EU mediators planned for Friday in Vienna on solving the Balkan nation'south political crisis have been canceled.

A joint statement issued by EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn and three other EU parliament members who were set to mediate the talks says the planned meeting in Vienna "couldn't take place."

Opposition boss Zoran Zaev had made Ivanov revoking the pardons a condition of the EU-led talks, as well as the postponement of the early June five election.

The EU said that "persisting regulation of law issues should be addressed without any further delay."

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