Macedonia's ex-leader, ousted after scandal, seeks re-election

November 18, 2016 5:16 AM EST

File photo of Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski after a news conference in Skopje January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski


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By Joern Poltz

MUNICH (Reuters) - Macedonia's former prime minister, who resigned in January after a wiretap scandal, said he would seek to return to the post at an election on Dec. 11.

Nikola Gruevski, who led the country for almost a decade as head of the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE, stepped down as part of an EU-brokered deal to end a crisis that began in February 2015 when the opposition accused him of listening in on the phone calls of more than 20,000 people.

"We believe that this political crisis will be resolved with the elections of Dec. 11," Gruevski told Reuters in Munich where he was visiting Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer.

Confirming he would run as the prime ministerial candidate for his party, which currently is in power, Gruevski said it should be up to the people to chose.

"Now it is time to give chance to them to decide who is right, who is wrong," he said.

Opinion polls put the VMRO-DPMNE slightly ahead of the opposition Social Democratic Union (SDSM).

Gruevski and dozens of his associates are being investigated by the office of a special prosecutor appointed to look into the phone-tapping scandal.

His opponents say he and his people interfered in the work of the judiciary and media, intimidated voters and appointed cronies to public sector job. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Gruevski said Macedonia would need more help, including financial assistance, from the European Union in tackling flows of migrants crossing the country to get the EU.

(Reporting by Joern Poltz; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)



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