At least four MPs were injured when supporters of the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party stormed the Macedonian Parliament after the former opposition elected a parliamentary speaker in a bid to form a government.
Violence erupted inside Macedonia’s parliament on Thursday as protesters supporting the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party stormed the building, angry over the election of new parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi by the former opposition.
People wearing hoods to conceal their faces and other protesters first broke the main entrance and then, after brawling with police, managed to enter the press hall where many MPs from the new majority and journalists remained trapped at the time of publication. Protesters also got into the parliament’s main plenary hall, eyewitnesses reported.
The leader of the main party in the new majority – Social Democrats, SDSM president Zoran Zaev – plus three other lawmakers from his party were reported by media crews that were present in the parliament as hurt in the brawl inside parliament.
The EU and US ambassadors in Skopje in a joint statement called for “dialogue”, urging the police to establish control over the situation.
The head of the VMRO DPMNE, Nikola Gruevski, posted a message on Facebook saying that “violence is not the solution”, urging the protesters to calm down.
The incident occurred shortly after afternoon a majority of 67 MPs in the 120-seat parliament elected the new parliament speaker – the next step towards the establishment of the new opposition-led coalition government.
“Dear citizens, my country, I congratulate you on the election of the new parliament speaker and God speed to all of us,” SDSM leader Zoran Zaev told a press conference inside parliament immediately before the former ruling VMRO DPMNE activists stormed the building.
The VMRO DPMNE party who has been filibustering the constitutive session for a month, not allowing the election of a new speaker.
It said that it would consider the new speaker’s election as a “coup attempt and the installation of parallel institutions”, which it would not allow.
New speaker Xhaferi rejected the VMRO DPMNE claim, saying that because there was a legitimate majority in parliament, “this cannot be a coup”.
On Thursday evening, more VMRO DPMNE supporters tried to enter and occupy the parliament.
The unrest in parliament erupted ahead of a visit by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Yee to Macedonia on Monday – and amid rumours that the former ruling party could be preparing to announce martial law in the country to stay in power.
Commenting on the situation in Macedonia, Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic has said the following: “What is happening in Macedonia at the moment is not only a Macedonian problem, but the problem for all of us who live here. As the head of the Serbian government, and as president elect of the Republic of Serbia, I have done everything in my power to maintain the best possible relationship between Belgrade and Skopje, Serbia and Macedonia.” Vucic also appealed to the citizens of Macedonia to try to resolve the problems in a peaceful manner.
By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
(Balkan Insight, 27.04.2017)
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