30,000 Supporters of Macedonian PM Stage Counter-Rally in Skopje

Some 30,000 supporters of conservative Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski gathered in downtown Skopje on Monday, a day after thousands of opposition demonstrators marched through the capital demanding that the premier resign.

The pro-Gruevski rally was being held outside the parliament building, some two kilometers (1.5 miles) away from where hundreds of opposition supporters were camping out in front of government offices, according to AFP journalists.

Gruevski's supporters were still pouring in towards the parliament waving Macedonia’s red and yellow flag and chanting "Macedonia! Macedonia!" as well as "Nikola! Nikola!"

The rally was held only a day after some 20,000 opposition protesters marched through Skopje to demand that Gruevski steps down, accusing him also of fomenting ethnic tensions to hang onto power that he has held since mid-2006.

Center-left opposition leader Zoran Zaev called on demonstrators to stay on the streets in front of Gruevski's neo-classical government headquarters "until he goes".

The tiny Balkan country is deeply divided by a year-long political crisis after disputed elections in April 2014, and in shock after a bloody clash between police and ethnic Albanian gunmen left 18 dead earlier this month.

The deadly shootout in the northern town of Kumanovo was the worst violence since Macedonia narrowly avoided civil war after an Albanian uprising in 2001.

Ethnic Albanians make up about one quarter of Macedonia's 2.1 million population.

Source: Agence France Presse

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