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Macedonian Opposition Calls For Peaceful Transfer Of Power In Parliament

Macedonian opposition leader Zoran Zaev

Macedonia's opposition party officially requested a session of parliament to secure its majority status and called on the conservative government to allow a peaceful transfer of power.

Though opposition leader Zoran Zaev of the Social Democrats (SDSM) has won the backing of a parliamentary majority, Macedonia's president has refused to grant him a mandate to form a new government.

The impasse has left the country unable to exit from a long-running political crisis.

SDSM and its partners in a coalition with ethnic Albanian parties on March 17 provided the government with signatures from 67 legislators, demonstrating their claim to the majority, and said they intend to elect a new parliamentary speaker.

The government "should immediately stop manipulating people into protesting, stop provoking...violence, and enable a peaceful transfer of power," they coalition said.

But President Gjorge Ivanov earlier this month rejected their request to form a government, saying the concession won by Albanian parties to make Albanian Macedonia's second language would "undermine Macedonia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence."

Instead, the ruling conservative party, VMRO, for three weeks has staged regular street demonstrations against the second language platform.

The European Union and United States both have backed the opposition's attempts to form a government.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL Balkan Service, AFP, and Macedonian Information Agency