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Macedonian PM Says He Won't Step Down Ahead Of Opposition Rally

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (file photo)

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (file photo)

Ahead of a major antigovernment rally planned for May 17, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski says he will not step down.

In comments to the private, pro-government Sitel TVchannel, Gruevski said: "I have no intention of resigning or accepting a transitional government."

Thousands are expected to turn out in the capital, Skopje, to demand that the cabinet resign.

The former Yugoslav republic has been rocked by a months-long political crisis, deepened by a huge wire-tapping scandal and an eruption of deadly violence last weekend, when 18 people died in a shootout between police and ethnic-Albanian rebels in the town of Kumanovo.

Conservative Gruevski has been in office since 2006, but the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) has boycotted parliament since his reelection in April last year, claiming he committed fraud.

Meanwhile, Russia has accused "Western organizers" of trying to foment what it called a "color revolution" in Macedonia, where tensions are simmering ahead of the May 17 opposition protest.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry cited Serbian media reports about the arrest of a Montenegrin citizen accused of helping people whom Moscow called "Albanian extremists" operating in Macedonia.

Russia uses the term "color revolution" to describe popular uprisings in countries where Moscow accuses the West of deliberately meddling in local politics.
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters