North Macedonia ends state of emergency, enters pre-election mode

Despite the recent surge in Covid-19 infections, North Macedonia authorities let the state of emergency to expire on Saturday night putting the country on road to snap elections, which were scheduled for the spring but delayed. President Stevo Pendarovski said on Friday that despite an ongoing spike of infections, there was no “necessity” in prolonging the state of emergency.

Pendarovski said that even without a state of emergency, there were still legal grounds to maintain such preventive measures as curfews, quarantines or crisis situations in parts or in the whole of the country. He pointed out that the date of the early general elections, which were put on hold in March and remain a contested issue, rests solely on his decision to lift the state of emergency.

But Pendarovski said he supported having elections sooner rather than later, insisting that the current situation needed action. “I know that most of our citizens do not think of elections at a time when there is an increase in the number of sick people, but elections, in a time of corona that will not go away soon, are necessary to have a functioning, rather than a dissolved parliament, and legal and legitimate, instead of a technical, government,” he insisted, adding that he would leave it to the political parties to agree on an exact date.

The health crisis struck North Macedonia amid ongoing preparations for early general elections that were set for 12 April. The pandemic arrived after parliament was already dissolved and a caretaker government in place that had a single task, to organise the polls. Currently, the main ruling Social Democrats led by Zoran Zaev and the main ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, are proposing elections at the earliest possible date, on 5 or 8 July. But the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party is against early elections, citing the current health situation, which over the past two weeks has worsened.

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