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Macedonia to hold polls in 2016 to end political crisis: EU

03 june 2015, 10:41

 Macedonian political leaders agreed Tuesday to hold elections in early 2016 in order to overcome a deep political crisis, EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said, AFP reports.

"It was agreed that by the end of April next year there should be early elections," Hahn told reporters after a day-long meeting with key political actors in Macedonia, including Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and main opposition leader Zoran Zaev.

Details of the EU-brokered agreement are expected to be hammered out next week in Brussels, Hahn said.

Macedonia's last elections were held in April 2014, with the next one's normally due in April 2018.

However the country is suffering a deep political crisis as the government and opposition exchange serious allegations.

The centre-left opposition accuses Gruevski of wiretapping some 20,000 people, including politicians and journalists, as well as of corruption, a murder cover-up and other wrongdoings.

The conservative government, in return, has filed charges against opposition leader Zaev accusing him of "spying" and attempts to "destabilise country".

The crisis further deepened earlier this month when police clashed with an ethnic Albanian armed group, whose members were mostly from Kosovo, in the northern town of Kumanovo. Eighteen people were killed in the clashes, including eight police officers.

An anti-government protest in mid-May gathered 20,000 people demanding Gruevski step down. Since then hundreds of opposition supporters have remained protesting in front of his office, refusing to leave until he resigns.

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