Macedonia opposition leader given mandate to form government

Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov gives mandate to Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev to form a coalition government after refusing to do so for nearly six months raising hopes for an end to a two-year political deadlock in Skopje Macedonia Ma

However Ivanov, a close ally of Macedonian nationalists, opposed its formation on the grounds that it could lead to greater autonomy for ethnic Albanians and thereby threaten Macedonia's sovereignty.

Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov gives mandate to Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev to form a coalition government after refusing to do so for almost six months.

The constitution says that once a representative of a party or a coalition that holds the majority in Parliament receives the mandate, he or she has 20 days to propose a list of Government ministers and a program before the Parliament for approval.

President Gjorge Ivanov forwarded the mandate to Zaev more than five months after parliamentary elections in the country.

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"The obstacles to awarding a mandate have been removed", Ivanov announced in a statement released by the president's office.

Despite pressure from the local and global community, Ivanov has been withholding the mandate for a new government from Zaev since early March citing the concerns that Zaev would endanger Macedonia's sovereignty due to his acceptance of various demands set by the Albanian parties, including the greater language and economic rights for the Albanian community in Macedonia.

The move was quickly welcomed by the European Union, which along with the United States has been urging Macedonia to mend internal rifts. The coalition agreement was struck after national elections in December.

Ivanov's move was welcomed on Wednesday by European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Johannes Hahn, in charge of enlargement.

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And Zaev told reporters on May 4 that he was "ready, if necessary, to see Ivanov and offer guarantees that the territorial integrity of Macedonia will be respected". The election led to serious incidents, after a group of demonstrators, which participated in the For United Macedonia-organised protest, stormed the parliament and attacked some MPs from the SDSM and ethnic Albanian parties. "This is what the people want and deserve", they said.

Months of political tensions boiled three weeks ago over disagreements about the election of a new parliament speaker.

Like the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party, Ivanov insisted that should Zaev come to power, he would endanger the country's sovereignty due to his acceptance of various demands set by the ethnic Albanian parties.

But Zaev promised a "swift formation of government in less than 10 days" in an attempt to allow the country to finally exit the deep political crisis.

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He also reiterated the promise for tax reform in the United States, telling G7 ministers it remains a goal by the end of the year. European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he hoped Trump would not abandon multilateralism and free trade.

Dozens of protesters to storm into parliament on April 27, assaulting Zaev and ethnic Albanian lawmakers in a melee that left more than 100 people injured.

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