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06:51, 29 May 2017 Monday
20:28, 09 February 2017 Thursday

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Macedonia has 'no time to waste' in forming govt: EU
Macedonia has 'no time to waste' in forming govt: EU

Macedonia's crisis erupted in February 2015 when a mass wiretapping scandal incited huge street protests for and against the government, forcing the EU to step in.

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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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.