North Macedonia opposition protests over power bill hike

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — Several thousand people gathered in North Macedonia’s capital Wednesday to protest a planned hike in electricity bills, in a demonstration organized by the country’s center-right main opposition party.

The peaceful gathering was part of a series of anti-government protests called by VMRO-DPMNE, which narrowly lost a July national election to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s Social Democrats. VMRO says it wants to force Zaev’s government, approved by parliament 10 days ago, to resign.

Carrying a banner reading “Electricity is expensive, people are poor,” VMRO politicians marched with other protesters through Skopje demanding that the national regulatory body rescinds its decision for a 7,4 % hike in power bills as of Oct. 1. The regulatory body said the increase was dictated by a rise in electricity production costs.

“It is enough; people must go onto the streets,” VMRO leader Hristijan Mickoski told protestors.

Zaev, who has formed a coalition government with an ethnic Albanian party, said the protest showed VMRO’s “frustration” at losing the July election.

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