Nikola Gruevski, the leader of Macedonia’s VMRO-DPMNE, says he plans to step down “soon” as the head of the country’s conservative opposition party.
His comments, made in an interview published on December 1 by Kurir News come just over a month after the ruling Social Democratic Union (SDSM) won a sweeping victory over the VMRO-DPMNE in two rounds of local elections.
The results delivered a severe blow to the VMRO-DPMNE, which had ruled much of the country for more than a decade and spurred debate within the party over its leadership.
Gruevski, who faces criminal investigations involving allegations of corruption and a wire-tapping scandal from during his time as the country’s prime minister, complained of irregularities in the election but conceded defeat.
“Regardless of the outcome of the election analysis, even if it finds that objectively my responsibility for the defeat was small or nonexistent, I will submit my resignation,” Gruevski said in the interview.
He added that he hopes his departure would help “to settle the overall political atmosphere” in the former Yugoslav republic.
Gruevski did not specify when he would resign as party leader but said it could happen within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Macedonian deputies voted on December 1 to lift the immunity of six VMRO-DPMNE members to allow them to be prosecuted over an attack by protesters on the parliament building in April.
The action was supported by 67 of the 120-member chamber. Opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote, claiming it was politically motivated.
The public prosecutor has charged 36 people with a “terrorist threat to the constitutional order and security" over the storming of parliament that left more than 100 people injured.
The six MPs could not be detained or tried unless their immunity was lifted.
With reporting by Kurir, BalkanInsight, AP, Macedonian Informaton Agency, and AFP