NATO Pressures Macedonia as Court Halts June Elections

© AP Photo / Virginia MayoNATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg listens to questions from journalists during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg listens to questions from journalists during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. - Sputnik International
Macedonia's political crisis looks set to continue after the country's constitutional court temporarily halted plans for a June 5 election. This comes amid pressure from NATO for the country to re-open investigations into an ongoing wiretapping scandal.

Next month's already under threat national election has now been placed in greater doubt after the constitutional court ruled that the dissolution of parliament ahead of the vote was unconstitutional.

The decision to suspend all election activity will be followed by a permanent ruling next week, and comes after a complaint from the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).

While the EU had brokered an agreement to hold elections in 2015, the DUI, along with the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), had all announced they would boycott next month's vote, arguing conditions weren't in place for free and fair elections.

Many had raised concerns over the legitimacy of the planned June elections, as the incumbent VMRO-DPMNE party, under the leadership of Nikola Gruevski, had been the only party to register for the vote.

Political Uncertainty Continues

Parliament will now be recalled with hopes the country's political stalemate can be solved and another election date can be agreed upon.

Macedonia has been mired in political crisis since early 2015, when opposition political parties accusing Gruevski's government and intelligence chiefs of wiretapping more than 20,000 people.

The prime minister denied the allegations, labeling the purported evidence as doctored, while opposition parties led widespread rallies calling for Gruevski's resignation.

The crisis was then inflamed when Macedonia's President, Gjorge Ivanov, granted amnesty to those under investigation over the wiretapping scandal, triggering more protests.

A demonstrator is seen with his face painted in support of a colorful revolution during a protest against the government, in front of the EU office in Skopje, Macedonia April 21, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Western Pressure Builds

Ivanov's decision to grant a pardon to those under investigation has resulted in widespread criticism from the West, with the EU and the US calling for the president to reverse his decision.

NATO-Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also joined the calls for Ivanov to re-open the country's investigation into the wiretapping scandal, referring to Macedonia's aspirations to join the military alliance.

"The door of NATO is still open, but it is crucial that the country's leaders address problems on the rule of law, including revoking the recent presidential pardons," he said.

"It is important that the minimum condition for normal political democratic life is in place."

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