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Macedonian Leader Refuses to Resign 'Without Popular Will'

© REUTERS / Marko DjuricaSupporters of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski hold a Macedonian flag during a rally in Skopje, Macedonia, May 18, 2015
Supporters of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski hold a Macedonian flag during a rally in Skopje, Macedonia, May 18, 2015 - Sputnik International
Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said at a pro-government demonstration he would not resign "without the will of the people".

SKOPJE (Sputnik) — Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said at a pro-government demonstration he would not resign "without the will of the people," despite calls from the opposition, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the site on Monday.

A massive pro-government rally organized by Macedonia's ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party is held in the center of the country's capital Skopje. According to the rough estimates, some 30,000 people gathered on the square in front of the Macedonian parliament’s building.

"I will not retire without the will of the people. This meeting is the will of the people! This rally is an answer to [the country's opposition leader] Zaev," the prime minister said.

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He once again accused Zoran Zaev, the head of Macedonia's largest opposition party he Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), of having ties with foreign intelligence services.

"Macedonia does not need a prime minister, placed in power under such a destructive scenario," Gruevski said.

He noted that his party is still committed to the integration into the European Union and NATO.

"My party remains on course to the EU and NATO’s joining," the prime minister said addressing the meeting in Skopje.

The rally’s participants welcomed the statement of the prime minister with applause, chanting his name.

At the same time, another meeting, organized by the opposition, is being held less than one mile from the parliament.

On Sunday, crowds of people took part in an anti-government corruption and police brutality rally organized by the SDSM. Zaev urged the protesters not to leave the streets until Gruevski steps down. A group of protesters has set up a tent camp outside government buildings in central Skopje.

The recent rallies come at a time of political instability in Macedonia.

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At least 40 people, mostly police officers, were injured during anti-government protests in Skopje on May 6.

Gruevski has also accused local opposition of capitalizing on the terrorist attack in the city of Kumanovo.

"The opposition is using the attack in Kumanovo for the political purposes… It wants to establish in Macedonia the political dictatorship of the minority. But Macedonia is not just Zoran Zaev [the country's opposition leader]. Macedonia is here!" Gruevski said.

On May 9, Macedonia witnessed violent clashes between police and an armed group in Kumanovo, a city bordering Serbia and Kosovo, which claimed the lives of eight Macedonian security officers and 14 Albanian gunmen. According to the Macedonian Interior Ministry, the group was led by five former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

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