North Macedonia Leaders Agree Election Date

Early general elections in North Macedonia, which were put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis, will be held on July 15, the head of the main ruling Social Democrats, SDSM, Zoran Zaev, said on Monday, after striking a deal with the opposition parties.

The breakthrough came after Zaev and the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party leader, Hristijan Mickoski, held one last round of talks on Monday.

"We must protect the country and the people from any risk of additionally worsening the situation. Without a parliament and government, the country will not be able to withstand a bigger crisis than this one," Zaev said.

"I know citizens are fed up with talks about the election date. I and the Social Democrats are taking a step to end this war of nerves … We are 'locking' in July 15 as the final date, so the opposition can participate", Zaev added.

Afterwards, Mickoski confirmed participation. "VMRO DPMNE will participate in the elections on July 15 and, together with the people, we will defeat the source of the crisis - Zoran Zaev and the Social Democrats," Mickoski said.

Over the weekend, Mickoski made a threat that the opposition would not participate in elections if they were set before July 15. He insisted that this was the earliest acceptable date, so that the country can prepare for the polls amid a still rampant COVID-19 outbreak.

Elections were originally planned for April 12 but then put on hold. As a result, the country entered a state of emergency and was left to handle the crisis with an already disbanded parliament, and with a caretaker government whose original task was solely to prepare for the polls.

For more than a month, the two main parties argued about a new election date. The Social Democrats insisted on elections...

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