Nationalists surrounded and stormed the parliament building
TV footage showed a bloodied politician
Violence broke out in Macedonia’s Parliament on Thursday after an ethnic Albanian MP was elected speaker, sparking outrage from nationalists.
Hundreds of angry protesters surrounded and stormed the Parliament building demanding new elections, according to the Macedonian Information Agency.
Television footage from inside the building showed individuals with black masks shoving and pushing people.
It’s not clear how many people were injured, but the footage showed Social Democratic Union leader Zoran Zaev with blood on his face and head.
The American Embassy in Skopje condemned the violence and asked all parties to refrain from further actions.
“A majority of MPs elected Talaat Xhaferi as Speaker of Parliament during a regular continued session of Parliament, witnessed by members of the public and the press. We will work with him to support democracy and to advance the interest of Macedonia” the embassy said on Twitter.
Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, and Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner, also condemned the violence and called for restraint.
“Shocked by attacks in #Skopje Parliament,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet. “All parties should respect democratic process and engage in dialogue, not violence.”
Macedonia is a former republic of Yugoslavia. Following Yugoslavia’s breakup in the early 1990s, the country was overcome with ethnic tension and violence.
Minority Albanians, who make up a quarter of the population, led an armed rebellion in the 2000s that ended with a NATO-brokered peace agreement.
The peace deal was supposed to provide Albanians with more rights, but they say that hasn’t been realized. Tensions have persisted ever since.