World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Union urged Macedonia on Thursday to form a new government as soon as possible, with the Balkan country mired in political stalemate following an inconclusive early election in December.
The vote was held as part of a EU-brokered deal between Macedonia's four main political parties and aimed to end a long-running crisis, but none of them secured a majority and a coalition deal has yet to be struck.
"It is important to stress that elections are not the end of the process," EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters during a two-day visit.
"The earlier there is a government in place the better it is. There is no further time to waste."
Former premier Nikola Gruevski stepped down a year ago after nearly a decade in power to pave the way for new elections.
His conservative VMRO-DPMNE party secured 51 seats in the 120-seat parliament -- or two more than the main opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) -- but he has failed to reach a deal with ethnic Albanian parties, who have a kingmaker role.
President Gjorge Ivanov subsequently told SDSM leader Zoran Zaev that he would be appointed prime minister-designate once he secured the support of 61 MPs.
Macedonia wants to join both NATO and the EU, but its membership has been blocked by Athens over a dispute about the country's name -- a northern region of Greece is also called Macedonia.
Ethnic Albanians make up about 25 percent of Macedonia's two million people.
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