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Macedonian Parties Agree To Delay Early Elections Until June 5

Macedonia's main political parties agreed to demands by the opposition to delay early elections previously scheduled for April 24 by more than a month until June 5.

Lawmakers voted 83-3 to postpone the formal dissolution of Parliament, which starts the 60-day countdown to the elections, that had been set for midnight on February 23 after the main opposition group threatened to boycott the elections over concerns they were open to fraud.

The elections are being held two years early as part of a deal brokered by the European Union last year to end a political crisis sparked by a wiretapping scandal.

Opposition parties — backed by the EU and the United States — had complained that April 24 was too early, as the necessary conditions to hold elections were not yet in place. The ruling conservative party had resisted postponing the timetable.

The political crisis stemmed from opposition allegations that the conservatives illegally wire-tapped 20,000 people, including police, judges, journalists, and foreign diplomats.

Social-Democrat opposition leader Zoran Zaev charged that the conversations revealed corruption at the highest level of government.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP