UPDATE 1 - Macedonian president mandates SDSM leader to form govt

UPDATE 1 - Macedonian president mandates SDSM leader to form govt Macedonia's president office/All rights reserved.

SKOPJE (Macedonia), May 17 (SeeNews) - Macedonia's new government will be formed within the next ten days, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said on Wednesday after president Gjorge Ivanov gave him the mandate.

"This day is a new beginning for Macedonia," Macedonia's future prime minister, Zoran Zaev, said after being handed the mandate. "We start to build a society with equal chances for everyone," Zaev said according to a video file posted on the website of local TV channel Alsat M.

Zaev called on Macedonian politicians to put aside differences, isolation, hate, tensions and destructive policies.

In a letter submitted to the Macedonian president, Zaev has given guarantees to keep the unitary character of the state, another local media outlet, a1on, reported.

"We guarantee to protect the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and multi-ethnicity of the Republic of Macedonia," Zaev has said in the letter, according to a1on.

Zaev has also promised that the decision making process in the next government will be based on democratic principles and will not cause Macedonia to become dependent on other countries. He also said that any document or platform which endangers Macedonia's sovereignty could be neither a condition, nor a basis for the formation of the new government.

As a result, president Gjorge Ivanov announced that the obstacles to awarding the mandate to Zaev have been removed.

In March, president Ivanov refused to give the mandate to form government to Zaev despite the proof of parliamentary majority which the SDSM leader had submitted to him. Ivanov said he was concerned that SDSM's agreement with ethnic Albanian parties to form a coalition cabinet would jeopardize the country's sovereignty. Those parties have pegged their participation in the future government to the acceptance of the so-called Tirana platform - a list of political demands they put forward following consultations with Albania's prime minister Edi Rama. 

The country has been without elected government since 2015, when the coalition cabinet led by nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party resigned amid a wiretapping scandal.

In the EU-mediated early elections in December 2016, VMRO-DPMNE won a close victory, defeating main opposition SDSM party. However, VMRO-DPMNE failed to agree with ethnic Albanian party DUI on forming a coalition government. 

On a number of occasions EU representatives called upon the president Ivanov to change his mind and give the mandate to Zaev. 

The situation escalated in the end of April when supporters of former prime minister and VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski stormed the parliament building to protest the election of Talat Xhaferi, member of ethnic Albanians' DUI party, for parliament speaker. Three members of parliament, 70 citizens and 22 police officers sought help in hospital after the attack, according to a police report.

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