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    Protestors clash with policemen in front of ruling party VMRO headquarters in Skopje, Macedonia April 12, 2016.

    Macedonia's President Stands by Pardons as Protests Continue

    © REUTERS / Ognen Teofilovski
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    More anti-government protests are planned for Macedonia following three consecutive nights of violent demonstrations in the capital Skopje.

    Protesters clashed with police following President Gjorge Ivanov's decision to call off an investigation into the illegal wiretapping of citizens.

    The crisis has gripped Macedonia ever since violent demonstrations erupted in June 2015, following claims the then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was complicit in the illegal surveillance of 20,000 Macedonian citizens' phone conversations.

    Macedonian protester hold signs with the picture of Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski during an opposition rally in capital Skopje on Sunday, May 17, 2015, demanding his resignation.
    © AP Photo / Visar Kryeziu
    Macedonian protester hold signs with the picture of Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski during an opposition rally in capital Skopje on Sunday, May 17, 2015, demanding his resignation.

    Gruevski always insisted the wiretapping allegations were invented to destabilize the government — and now the judicial inquiry into the illegal surveillance launched by the country's President Gjorge Ivanov has been stopped.

    During a nationwide televised address on Tuesday 12 April Ivanov announced that he would end the probe into 56 officials allegedly embroiled in the scandal, granting amnesty to dozens of people facing corruption allegations — including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

    The decision has enraged thousands of people who turned to the streets to violently vent their anger.

    The capital city of Skopje has been embroiled in violent ant-government demonstrations ever since Ivanov's announcement with continued calls for his resignation from protesters.

    President Ivanov's office has been ransacked and the Ministry of Justice demolished amid reports police were physically beating protesters.

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's Minister for Foreign Affairs has released a statement following the president's decision to pardon the politicians and officials implicated in the wiretapping scandal.

    "I am very concerned about the latest developments. The president's decision to exempt politicians and officials accused of gross misconduct from criminal prosecution is detrimental to the rule of law and legal certainty. The priority now must be to redouble efforts to establish the jointly agreed minimum conditions so that credible elections can nonetheless be held in the near future," the statement said.

    But at a recent press conference, Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov said he stood by his decision to offer pardons to people involved in the wiretapping scandal.

    There are reports Skopje is closing to all traffic in the capital's center in anticipation of further rallies by opposition party the Social Democrats (SDSM) and Macedonia's ruling party VMRO DPMNE.

    Macedonia has called early parliamentary elections to be held on June 5.

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    Tags:
    anger, riot, clashes, police, protests, politics, demonstrations, Nikola Gruevski, Europe, Macedonia
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