SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — Political leaders in North Macedonia have agreed to hold a national election on July 15 after the poll was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The election had initially been planned for April but was delayed after a state of emergency was declared in the former Yugoslav republic. That ended at the weekend.
Parliament was dissolved in January and a caretaker government was sworn in to prepare for the early election. Until Monday, the leader of the ruling Social Democrats, Zoran Zaev, and the conservative opposition had failed to agree on a new date despite repeated efforts.
President Stevo Pendarovski, who had brokered the talks, refused Friday to back a new extension to the state of emergency.
At the same time, the tiny Balkan country is grappling with a resurgence of infections that occurred after restrictions were recently relaxed. Health Minister Venko Filipce announced 103 new confirmed cases Monday and five deaths, bringing the total number of infected people to 4,157 and the death toll to 193.
Politics in North Macedonia has been rocked for years by successive scandals and allegations of corruption and by a heated dispute over an agreement with neighbor Greece that saw the country change its name last year from Macedonia. In return, Greece — which also has territory named Macedonia — dropped its objections to the country’s accession to NATO.
Zaev reached the agreement Monday with opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski, head of the conservative VMRO_DPMNE party. In a Facebook post, Mickoski said his party would participate in the election.