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Thousands call for PM Gruevski resignation


Macedonia

Thousands call for PM Gruevski resignation

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Skopje on Sunday, the capital of the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.

The crowds called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in the central avenue outside his government office.

Since February the Prime Minister, who has served for nine years, has faced a wave of embarrassing revelations against him and his ministers in relation to taped conversations that appear to expose tight government control over journalists, judges and the conduct of elections.

Gruevski says he did not order the recordings and that the audio has been doctored.

The opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev says the tapes were made illegally by the government as part of a mass surveillance operation targeting 20,000 allies and opponents alike, and leaked to him by a whistleblower.

The combination of Macedonian and Albanian flags in the crowd revealed a dramatic display of ethnic unity against the government.

Ethnic Albanians currently account for some 30 percent of the population but the two communities live largely separate lives.

In 2001 the Former Yugoslav Republic was on the brink of civil war following an ethnic Albanian insurgency.

The opposition has asked for the protests to continue until the Prime Minister steps down but Gruevski is standing his ground.

Speaking to the pro-government Sitel TV on Saturday he said “If I back down it would be a cowardly move. I’ll face down the attacks.”

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