Macedonia opposition leader given mandate to form government

Zoran Zaev left leader of Macedonia's opposition presents to President Gjorge Ivanov right the signatures from lawmakers to form a new government in the capital Skopje. Ivanov handed Zaev the mandate to form

The decision could bring an end to months of political instability in the Eastern European country.

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.

But he came under worldwide pressure to reverse his decision, particularly from the European Union, which Macedonia aspires to join.

"As soon as we have a government, we will have a bilateral meeting with our colleagues from Macedonia, along with foreign ministers, and make plan for Macedonia, as we are ahead of the European Union presidency, so everyone should write their homework just like Bulgaria, "Borisov said".

Despite pressure from the local and worldwide 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.

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".

But even before that the country was deeply divided, as a wiretapping scandal in 2015 drove a wedge between the two main parties.

The political stalemate stalled Skopje's efforts to move toward membership in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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An EU statement welcomed the development and expressed hope that this "constructive spirit" would "continue to prevail so that the country can finally come out of the political crisis".

"We expect now a swift formation of the government committed to implementing all parts of the Przino agreement and the Urgent Reform Priorities", Mogherini and Hahn said in a joint statement. "This is what the people want and deserve".

The inconclusive election in December led to the tense impasse that persisted for months.

The situation erupted on April 27, when the majority in the parliament elected a new speaker, Talat Xhaferi from the DUI, in a non-standard procedure, as VMRO MPs obstructed the process. Roughly a quarter of the country's population is ethnic Albanian.

Zaev said he would immediately start coalition talks with three ethnic Albanian parties, the Democratic Union for Integration, Besa and the Alliance for Albanians.

The group assaulted lawmakers and more than 100 people were injured.

The EU and the United States strongly condemned the violence, moved to recognize Zaev's coalition as the legitimate majority bloc, and called on Ivanov to do the same.

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