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Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:57PM
Opposition supporters stand in front of the Macedonian parliament to protest the governing party’s 2013 draft budget, December 24, 2012.

Opposition supporters stand in front of the Macedonian parliament to protest the governing party’s 2013 draft budget, December 24, 2012.

Thousands of Macedonians have poured into the streets in the capital Skopje to express their anger over the approval of the country’s 2013 budget. On Saturday, protesters gathered outside the headquarters of Macedonia's rightist ruling party, calling on Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to resign his post immediately. “So we are here in the protest, because this regime must be brought down, we will see how, this regime should fall…,” said a protester during the rally. The protest comes after the parliament approved, earlier this week, the 2013 budget of USD 3.2 billion, which the opposition parties including the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party see as unnecessary spending. Earlier in the day, SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski issued a statements saying that “We do not have a real parliament and a real government…This government cannot even breathe without taking a loan.” On December 24, thousands of pro-government supporters and opposition backers also clashed over the country’s budget near the parliament in the capital, where at least eight protesters were wounded. Macedonia, a neighbor of Greece, slipped into recession this year. The crisis-hit country had one of Europe’s highest rates of unemployment. Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens heavily debt-ridden countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain. The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries. MAM/PKH