Macedonian parliament dissolved, early elections by June
(dpa) - The Macedonian parliament after a two-day debate to end a paralyzing political crisis voted Saturday to dissolve itself, triggering early parliamentary elections.
The move also means the dissolution of the coalition government. According to the country's constitution, elections are to be held by mid-June.
Some 70 of the 120 legislators backed the motion to dissolve the parliament and pave the way for polls.
The ruling coalition of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's nationalist VMRO-DPMNE and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), supported the motion, which was filed by the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) of the former Albanian rebel chief, Ali Ahmeti.
The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM), boycotted the vote. They criticized the plan to call early elections as a bid to avoid responsibility in the face of the reform requirements in the country's bid to join NATO and the European Union.
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on the other hand accused the opposition of blocking the daily working of parliament and state institutions.
The country's President Branko Crvenkovski was against the dissolution of parliament, warning that the country needed political stability and a consensus between the country's ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians.
Crvenkovski added that the United States and the EU were also against new elections as Macedonian needed to continue its reforms and negotiations with Greece over the row over the country's name.
Macedonia tottered on the verge of civil war when Albanian- nationalist Ahmeti launched an insurgency in 2001. The conflict was ended when the West brokered a broad peace and reform deal giving the Albanians, or roughly 25 per cent of the population, more rights.
But tensions persist and when Macedonia was not invited to join NATO at its most recent summit, the majority Slavic Macedonians were bitterly disappointed and worried, as they see NATO as a guarantee that their country will not be dismembered along ethnic lines.
US President George W Bush promised Macedonia an invitation to join NATO as soon as it resolves its dispute with Greece in talks due to continue under UN auspices.
Greece effectively vetoed Macedonia's bid to join NATO in a long- running dispute over Macedonia's official name. Athens maintains that allowing its northern neighbour to call itself "Macedonia" would imply a territorial claim on the Greek province of the same name.