Macedonia opposition ejected from parliament in row

Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:29pm EST
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By Kole Casule

SKOPJE (Reuters) - The opposition in Macedonia was ejected from parliament on Monday for brawling, prompting it to pledge to boycott the chamber and initiate a campaign of civil disobedience after a rancorous disagreement over the size of next year's budget.

The incident occurred after thousands of pro- and anti-government demonstrators clashed outside parliament in Skopje, the capital, and allowed the government to push through a vote in favor of its contested budget proposals in which only just over half of MPs took part.

As opposition MPs scuffled with pro-government counterparts to try to prevent a debate on a budget they felt was too profligate from getting underway, security guards evacuated parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski from the plenary hall.

Security guards then forced opposition deputies out of the parliament building who joined their supporters in the streets as the government pushed through a 64-4 vote in favor of its own budget proposal. Parliament has 120 members.

Branko Crvenkovski, the head of the opposition Social Democrats, accused the center-right government of Nikola Gruevski of suspending democracy.

"From today, Macedonia has no constitution, no parliament, no government. We have a dictatorial regime on one side and the people on the other," Crvenkovski said.

"From tomorrow we will begin (a campaign of) civil disobedience," he told a crowd, without elaborating further.

The government proposed a 148-billion-denari ($3.2 billion) budget for 2013 last month, forecasting a deficit of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. It put growth next year at 2 percent of GDP.   Continued...

Macedonian deputies and members of opposition Social-Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) clash with Parliament security as they try to protect parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski in Skopje December 24, 2012. REUTERS/Viktor Popovski