Macedonia: Mob stormed parliament, attacked MPs

Months after the Macedonian elections, the head of the largest party failed to form a coalition. When opposition parties attempted to elect an Albanian speaker, an angry mob burst into Parliament and attacked the MPs.
Protesters in parliament Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Yesterday (Thursday), total chaos erupted in the Macedonian Parliament when protesters broke into the building and attacked MPs. For hours, protesters clashed with security forces. As a result, 77 people were injured, including 22 police officers and 3 MPs.

The attack was sparked after the Social Democrat party (SDSM), together with parties representing the Albanian minority in the country, voted for the appointment of a new Albanian speaker.

Most of the protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s nationalist party, the VMRO DPMNE. While his party won the elections last December, he didn’t receive the necessary majority needed to form a coalition. Instead, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev formed an alliance with the smaller ethnic Albanian parties to reach the necessary majority. However, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (of the VMRO DPMNE party) declined to ask Zaev to form a coalition. Since then, daily protests are happening across the country.

The angry mob entered the parliament while trampling everything on its way. Chairs were thrown and cameras were torn from the hands of photographers and journalists. The demonstrators attacked MPs, including SDSM leader Zaev, who was seen bleeding from his forehead.

Zaev Photo credit: Twitter/ Channel 2 News

President Ivanov called for “reasonable and responsible behavior” and said he summoned the leaders of the main political parties (VMRO DPMNE and SDSM) for an emergency meeting.

Macedonia has been without a government since the elections. Coalition talks failed due to issues surrounding the Albanian minority in the country. A quarter of Macedonian citizens are ethnic Albanians and they demand Albanian to be recognized as the second official language. Many saw the move to elect an Albanian speaker as a coup. 

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