Macedonia's SDSM Poised to Get Govt Mandate after Deal with Albanians
The leader of the social democrat SDSM party in Macedonia is to ask the President for a mandate to form a government after shaking hands with ethnic Albanian party DUI, local media report.
At a meeting on Saturday, the SDSM has unanimously picked Zoran Zaev as the mandate bearer candidate.
This comes more than two months after the snap vote in Macedonia in mid-December, when formerly ruling VMRO-DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski gained the best result, followed by the SDSM and the ethnic Albanian DUI party.
The SDSM meeting followed the DUI party's decision on Friday to hand SDSM signatures to form a government.
"We are giving the signatures to make sure deadlines will be met and not too much time will be lost," MKD.mk quotes DUI spokesperson Bujar Osmani as saying.
Osmani, however, adds that talks over forming a government would continue.
It is not clear whether the DUI would take part in a cabinet with the SDSM or would simply support a minority coalition.
Through the move, Zaev is likely to be tasked with forming a new government once he delivers the signatures to President Gjorge Ivanov.
Earlier, after formerly ruling VMRO-DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski failed to form a government, Ivanov announced he would not give the mandate to the second-biggest party after the election (SDSM), but to the one which manages to forge a parliamentary majority.
An earlier statement from Ivanov reads that a mandate bearer has to provide guarantees that the "unitary nature" of the state will be retained.
In addition, the SDSM will have to secure support from one more party - possibly any of the smaller Albanian ones - to secure a parliamentary majority. In the 120-seat legislature, the SDSM has 49 MPs, while the DUI has 10 MPs, two seats short of majority.
VMRO-DPMNE party meanwhile blames other political parties for a snub at the "rule of coalition between winning political parties in the Macedonian and Albanian bloc".
In a statement cited by state-run MIA news agency, the party has opposed attempts at "ignoring the will of the majority of Macedonians".
It also lashes out at the SDSM for succumbing to the DUI's demands of recognizing the Albanian language as Macedonia's second official one and other concessions that may "cause long-term damage and carry potential to cause tensions and instability".
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