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Two More Macedonian Parties Join Boycott Of June 5 Elections

Activists protesting against corruption have thrown paint on Macedonian monuments in what has been dubbed a "Colorful Revolution."
Activists protesting against corruption have thrown paint on Macedonian monuments in what has been dubbed a "Colorful Revolution."

Two more political parties in Macedonia have said they will join a boycott of parliamentary elections on June 5, throwing into question the viability of the polls.

The early elections were called last month as part of a European Union-brokered deal to end political deadlock linked to a wiretapping scandal.

But two more parties said on May 11 that they would join opposition Social Democrats in their election boycott -- both representing Macedonia's Albanian minority in parliament, or about one-third of the population.

Like the Social Democrats, the Albanian parties said they will not take part until a free and fair vote can be held.

The Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, a junior partner in the coalition government, said it would not register candidates by a midnight deadline on May 11.

The opposition Democratic Party of Albanians also said it would not register candidates.

All the parties boycotting the elections want electoral rolls to be brought up to date, media to be freed from government control, and ruling party officials to be prevented from running government bodies.

Macedonia has been in turmoil since February 2015, when the opposition accused then-Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his counterintelligence chief of wiretapping more than 20,000 people.

The wiretapping exposed tight government control over journalists, judges, and the conduct of elections.

Adding to opposition concerns about the VMRO ruling party, President Gjorge Ivanov this year pardoned 56 officials involved in the scandal despite street protests and international demands that he reverse the move.

The EU has threatened sanctions against Macedonian politicians if they obstruct efforts to end the crisis.

Representatives of the ruling party could not immediately be reached for comment, but it has said it will go ahead with the election despite the boycott.

Analysts and diplomats question, however, whether the elections can be held with only one party taking part. They say a postponement is likely.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa
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