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Presidential pardon sparks riot in FYR Macedonia

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By Euronews
Presidential pardon sparks riot in FYR Macedonia

<p>There were violent scenes in the Macedonian capital Skopje on Wednesday night as protesters demanded the president step down over his decision to pardon dozens of people caught up in a wiretapping scandal.</p> <p>An office used by President Gjorge Ivanov was ransacked by demonstrators and furniture set on fire.</p> <p>Injuries and arrests were reported as some of the thousands who had taken to the streets clashed with riot police.</p> <p>Ivanov is under fire for granting a blanket amnesty to those caught up in the phone-tap affair including former prime minister Nikola Gruevski – a political ally – and other prominent politicians.</p> <p>The government denies claims it spied on more than 20,000 people.</p> <p>But anger is a boiling point. </p> <p>The opposition says the phone-taps exposed control over journalists and judges and the manipulation of elections in the Balkan country, which aspires to join both the European Union and <span class="caps">NATO</span>.</p> <p>The president explained his decision to pardon 56 government and opposition figures by saying the <br /> scandal had reduced Macedonian politics to a crippling competition of criminal investigations and charges, and that it had become “so tangled that nobody can untangle it”.</p> <p>In Washington, <a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/04/255787.htm">the US State Department urged Ivanov</a> to reconsider his decision so as to ensure “justice for the people of Macedonia”.</p> <br /> <br /> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">US Urges Macedonia to Reconsider Decision to Halt Wiretap Inquiry <a href="https://t.co/YmBpziWCqq">https://t.co/YmBpziWCqq</a> <a href="https://t.co/nnq1JIknSb">pic.twitter.com/nnq1JIknSb</a></p>— Voice of America (@VOANews) <a href="https://twitter.com/VOANews/status/720342002219499521">13 avril 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <br /> <br /> <p>And US Ambassador Jess Baily said on Twitter: “A blanket pardon without due process protects corrupt politicians and their associates. Let the special prosecutor and courts do their jobs.”</p> <br /> <br /> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A blanket pardon w/o due process protects corrupt politicians and their associates. Let <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SPO?src=hash">#SPO</a> and courts do their jobs.</p>— Amb. Jess Baily (@AmbBaily) <a href="https://twitter.com/AmbBaily/status/720163333626724356">13 avril 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <br /> <br /> <p>The European Union brokered a deal with Macedonian authorities under which a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the allegations. </p> <p>The government agreed to an early election and <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-macedonia-government-idUKKCN0UT17M">Gruevski stepped down as prime minister</a> in January this year. The vote has now been put back until June and the opposition has pledged to boycott it.</p> <p>The EU commissioner in charge of relations with would-be member states, Johannes Hahn, says he doubts whether credible elections are possible following Ivanov’s decision.</p> <p>He has also urged an end to violence and a political solution.</p> <br /> <br /> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Skopje?src=hash">#Skopje</a>: "Call upon all political parties and responsible citizens to refrain from acts of violence" 1/2</p>— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) <a href="https://twitter.com/JHahnEU/status/720344819978149889">13 avril 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <br /> <br /> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="fr"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">"Crisis can only be solved by political means. Responsibility of political parties to return to negotiation table" 2/2</p>— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) <a href="https://twitter.com/JHahnEU/status/720344921459167233">13 avril 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p>