Macedonia Leaders to Hold Showdown Meeting on Referendum

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has set up a meeting with leaders of the opposition and other parliamentary parties for Wednesday afternoon, aimed at ending the opposition's informal blockade of the planned referendum on the name deal with Greece which is aimed at clearing the country's way towards NATO and EU membership.

"Due to the extraordinary political momentum... all leaders of parties that have more than one MP are invited to attend," the government said on Tuesday.

The main opposition right wing VMRO DPMNE party - which opposes the name deal with Greece - did not confirm on Tuesday whether its leader, Hristijan Mickovski, will attend.

The main task at hand, Zaev said, will be to iron out views on the referendum date, the referendum question and its character - binding or consultative.

The aim is for all the overdue preparations for the referendum to wrap up by Friday in order not to miss the planned dates of September 23 or October 7, he added.

The opposition VMRO DPMNE party has been dragging its feet for several weeks over the formation of a new election commission, tasked with holding the referendum.

But the opposition was caught off guard on Tuesday when the government proposed and the parliament majority adopted, at the first reading, proposed changes to the Electoral Law in order to circumvent their blockade.

According to the proposed changes, the appointment of the electoral commission will no longer require a two-thirds majority, but a simple majority of the 61 MPs in the 120-seat parliament, which the ruling parties has.

It will also no longer require a preceding session of the parliament's commission on appointments, which is being presided over by the opposition, which has been refusing to set up a...

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