Around 100 injured in Macedonian parliament protest

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Skopje, April 28 (IANS) Around 100 persons were hurt when protests at the Macedonian Parliament turned violent, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

A number of civilians, 22 policemen and three MPs were among those injured in the Thursday violence, Xinhua news agency reported.

Protesters broke into the building after Tallat Xhaferri from the DUI, an ethnic Albanian party, was elected the parliament Speaker.

Pictures on social media showed protesters cornering lawmakers who voted for Xhaferri and attacking them.

Among the attacked was Zoran Zaev, leader of the Social Democratic Union for Macedonia (SDSM), which is leading a coalition with three ethnic Albanian political parties.

“The situation in central Skopje, in and around the parliament building is normalised. There are no more protesters in the building,” an Interior Ministry statement said.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov called for calm in an urgent address to the nation.

“I call you to remain calm and not to fall under fake provocations and manipulations,” said Ivanov.

“I call upon all institutions to behave responsibly respecting the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Macedonia.”

He also called a meeting with major political leaders for Friday.

Nikola Gruevski, leader of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, blamed the SDSM for the incident.

“The greed to take over the ruling at any cost is a direct reason that caused this unwanted situation,” Gruevski said.

Gruevski also condemned the violence and demanded punishment for the attackers.

In Macedonia’s elections in December, the VMRO-DPMNE secured 51 of the 120 seats in the parliament, two more than the SDSM.

But the SDSM won the right to form a new government after it formed a coalition with ethnic Albanian parties.

Protesters have been in the streets of Skopje for the past two months to oppose the formation of a coalition government between SDSM and ethnic Albanian parties.

About one-fourth of Macedonia’s population are ethnic Albanians.

–IANS

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