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Protesters ransack president's office

14 April 2016, 08:01

Skopje - Protesters broke into the offices of Macedonia's presidency late on Wednesday and set fire to the furniture in sporadic clashes in the capital Skopje, as thousands took to the streets in an anti-government protest.

Demonstrators were pelting several buildings with eggs and stones, with police chasing smaller groups of protesters demanding the resignation of President Gjorge Ivanov over his shock decision to block legal proceedings against top politicians embroiled in a wire-tapping scandal.

The protesters smashed all the windows at the presidency's offices before doing the same to the furniture and setting it alight, AFP reporters said.

"Twelve people were detained and one journalist was injured" in the clashes, police spokesperson Toni Angelovski told AFP.

Separately, in front of the parliament a few hundred metres away, supporters of the main opposition SDSM party tried to break through police cordon towards rival supporters of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party, an AFP journalist said.

The protest started with several hundred people chanting "Resignation now!" but gradually swelled to several thousand people across multiple sites in the city centre, according to local media.

Ivanov's decision on Tuesday to block the probes has deepened a crisis that began last year when the SDSM accused then prime minister Nikola Gruevski - an ally of the president - of wiretapping some 20 000 people, including politicians and journalists, and said the recordings revealed high-level corruption.

The government denied the accusations and in return filed charges against SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, accusing him of "spying" and attempting to "destabilise" the country of two million people, which is hoping to join the European Union.



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