North Macedonia's parties agree to hold snap election on 12 April

North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski

Leaders of major political parties in North Macedonia, including those in the ruling coalition, agreed to hold a snap parliamentary election on 12 April after the EU failed to give the country a date to start talks on joining the bloc, news wires reported.

At the EU summit on Friday French President Emmanuel Macron led a group of leaders who blocked opening talks with Albania and North Macedonia, despite concerns over increasing Chinese and Russian influence in the Balkans.

On Sunday afternoon, North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski called a meeting with party leaders to discuss further steps after Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Saturday called for a snap vote. At the meeting, the party leaders agreed to hold elections on 12 April, eight months ahead of the end of the current term. “We have a clear state consensus of all political leaders, that despite the decision of the European Council, ... the Republic of North Macedonia should start negotiations (with the EU) as soon as possible,” Pendarovski said after the meeting.

According to the law, Zaev will now have to step down from the post of the prime minister in January, making way for a caretaker government that would include experts and some representatives of the opposition party, as well to prepare for the election.

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