Skopje, 21 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonia's main moderate party and a smaller political party walked out of the country's national unity government today, as expected. The departures of the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) and the smaller Liberal Democratic party are not expected to bring down the government, but it will likely complicate efforts to implement a three-month-old peace accord with ethnic Albanian rebels.
Yesterday, SDSM spokeswoman Radmila Sekerinska said the party was leaving the government because it was being "used" by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski's VMRO-DPMNE party to "share blame" for confrontational tactics.
The multiparty coalition was initially set up at the urging of Western envoys to provide a unified political counterweight to ethnic Albanian rebels and to temper Georgievski's tough line in dealing with the insurgents.
The move by the SDSM will be formally announced by party chairman Branko Crvenkovski on 23 November. The SDSM's departure will enable it to disassociate itself from the activities and decisions of Premier Georgievski, of whom it disapproves. The Social Democrats are anxious to establish a clear profile in the run-up to the January 2002 elections. Polls show them ahead of Georgievski's nationalists, but the balance of power lies with voters who have not yet made up their minds. Observers note, however, that the SDSM's departure from the cabinet would strengthen the hand of hard-line Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski. His main rival, Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski, is a Social Democrat.