SKOPJE (Reuters) - North Macedonia’s political parties have decided to postpone an April 12 parliamentary election due to the coronavirus outbreak, Zoran Zaev, the head of the ruling Social Democrats and former prime minister, said on Tuesday.
North Macedonia last week introduced an array of measures to curb the spread of the disease, including a ban on public gatherings and on foreign nationals entering the country. It also closed most border crossings.
So far, 26 people have tested positive for the coronavirus infection but no deaths have been reported.
“The health and security of our citizens have no price ... We have all agreed that the conditions do not exist... for the election to be held,” Zaev told reporters after a meeting of political party leaders in the capital Skopje.
The party leaders still have to decide how to implement the decision, said Bujar Osmani, the deputy prime minister and vice-president of the co-ruling ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration
“We made a political decision ... (but) we need further consultations on how to legally implement it,” Osmani said.
The election is seen as a major test for the pro-European Union policies of Zaev’s Social Democrats after French President Emmanuel Macron last October refused to let North Macedonia start talks on joining the bloc.
Last year, NATO members signed an accord to invite North Macedonia to become the 30th member of the alliance after a deal with Greece ended a long dispute over its name.
On Tuesday, Spain ratified North Macedonia’s NATO accession, paving the way for its full formal membership.
Reporting by Kole Casule; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gareth Jones