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N. Macedonia: Pro-Western leader invited to form government

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s president on Thursday formally invited the head of the country's pro-Western Social Democrats to form a new government, after the party came first in July 15 general elections.

But Zoran Zaev's party failed to win a controlling majority in the 120-seat parliament, gaining 46 seats, and is engaged in complex power-sharing talks with smaller ethnic Albanian parties. After receiving the mandate from President Stevo Pendarovski, he now has 20 days to secure a parliamentary majority.

Zaev stepped down as prime minister in January and called elections over the country's failure to secure the go-ahead for European Union accession talks. If the coalition talks fail then the center-right VMRO-DPMNE party, which came second in the elections and secured 44 seats in parliament, will be invited to form a government.

A main potential partner for Zaev is the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, which has participated in coalition governments for the past 18 years. It is demanding that an ethnic Albanian should be appointed prime minister for the first time in North Macedonia’s history — a demand flatly rejected by both major parties during the election campaign.

DUI won 15 seats in July’s election, while another coalition of two small ethnic Albanian parties won 12 seats.

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