Constitutional court suspends Macedonia vote campaign

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday temporarily halted all activities for the June 5 general election, following a request by a party in the governing coalition to examine whether the decision to dissolve Parliament for the vote was constitutional.

The European Union, which Macedonia hopes one day to join, hailed the ruling, saying necessary conditions weren’t in place for the election to be held on the originally scheduled date.

The court suspended all election activity pending a decision next week.

Only one party has been participating in the election campaign — the VMRO-DPMNE of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, which heads the governing coalition. All others have boycotted proceedings, saying there are no conditions for a free and fair election.

Macedonia has been in political turmoil since February 2015 following a wiretapping scandal.

In a joint statement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, the bloc’s top official for enlargement, said Wednesday’s decision provides “a renewed opportunity for (Macedonia) to address a number of serious issues at the heart of the prolonged political crisis.”

The EU officials also called for the swift revocation of pardons issued last month by Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, which halted criminal proceedings against dozens of people, including high-ranking politicians, accused in the wiretapping scandal.

The statement urged Macedonia’s feuding political parties to “find a common agreement that serves all citizens.”

The appeal to the Constitutional Court was brought by the junior coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration.