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Macedonian Political Parties Agree On Steps Toward Early Elections

Macedonia has been wracked by political strife ever since former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski became embroiled in a wiretapping scandal last year.

Macedonia's main political parties have reached agreement on several measures that would pave the way for early parliamentary elections.

U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily said a deal had been renewed that would clean up voter lists and initiate reforms within the media, two issues that the main opposition Social Democratic Union (SDSM) has demanded before agreeing to fresh elections, media outlets reported on July 21.

Macedonia's four main political parties have until August 31 to decide whether the steps agreed have been fulfilled and elections can be held at a still undetermined date.

The new preliminary deal brings hope that more than one year of political strife between the SDSM and the ruling VMRO party can be resolved.

The conflict began after allegations that the government of then-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had illegally wiretapped opposition politicians, judges, and other elites in Macedonia.

Gruevski accused the opposition of trying to blackmail him into resigning and charged SDSM leader Zoran Zaev with treason.

Based on reporting by and dpa