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Macedonian opposition flexes muscles in march in Skopje

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By Robert Hackwill
Macedonian opposition flexes muscles in march in Skopje

Thousands of conservative opposition supporters protested outside the main government building in the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Saturday, to demand an early election and reject a compromise solution with Greece over the country's name.

The conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which ruled from 2006 to 2017,organised the march. It claims the one-year-old left-wing government is incompetent, has devastated the economy, lowered wages and pensions and allowed corruption to flourish, adding it has damaged national interests in the name negotiations with Athens by agreeing to consider a new name.

VMRO-DPMNE's leader, Hristijan Mickoski, said the protest was "the beginning of the end" for the current government and called for early elections to be held next March or April. He said a government of technicians should be formed to govern until the elections.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, 43, took power in May 2017 after 11 years of conservative rule amid a deep political crisis sparked by a wiretapping scandal in 2015.