Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski rallied support yesterday (15 March), amid growing pressure over opposition accusations that his government organised widespread wiretapping, and rejected demands for early elections.
Last month, Macedonian opposition leader Zoran Zaev accused Gruevski’s conservative government of wiretapping at least 20,000 people, including politicians, journalists and religious leaders.
Facing mounting international and domestic pressure to respond to the claims, Gruevski on Sunday hit back by accusing the opposition of “attempting to destabilise the country on behalf of a foreign state,” but named no particular country.
In January the government filed a complaint against Zaev and several other people for espionage and violence against officials. The opposition leader denied the accusations.
European Union officials have expressed concern over the “deteriorated political dialogue” in Macedonia, and called for a thorough investigation.
Addressing some 7,000 supporters in a sports hall in Skopje, Gruevski also rejected Socialist opposition demands to form a transitional government and call early elections.
“We always believed that the people give the mandate and legitimacy through elections, and the people choose who will form the government and who will not,” Gruevski, who has been in power in the landlocked nation of two million people since mid-2006, told the crowd.
Earlier on Sunday, Zaev called on Gruevski to resign, form an interim government and organise “fair and democratic” early elections. The Socialists have been boycotting the parliament since April 2014 early polls, protesting alleged electoral fraud. Regular legislative balloting in Macedonia is due in 2018.
The former Yugoslav republic was granted EU candidate status in 2005, but has yet to obtain a date for the start of accession talks.