North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has formally filed his resignation to the parliament on Wednesday, following his party’s loss at mayoral elections in the country in October.
The resignation now paves way for Dimitar Kovacevski, who also replaced Zaev as the head of the ruling Socialists (SDSM), to form a new government.
“It would be politically irresponsible and unjustified for me … to continue to lead the country along the Euroatlantic path,” Zaev said in his letter of resignation distributed to media.
“I believe that another prime minister from the ranks of the SDSM could achieve that in a better way,” he said.
Zaev’s resignation must be formally confirmed by the parliament speaker.
Under the constitution, President Stevo Pendarovski has 10 days to invite Kovacevski to form the new cabinet which has the backing of 64 deputies in the 120-seat parliament. Kovacevski would then have 20 days to form the new government.
The future government faces challenges from both the coronavirus pandemic and an energy crisis declared last month due to lack of domestic electricity production and price hikes across Europe.
North Macedonia, which produces 80% of its electricity in coal-fired plants, imports a third of its energy needs.
In addition, North Macedonia, which joined NATO last year, wants to join the European Union but Bulgaria objects because of disputes over history and linguistics.
Zaev, 47, had led the government of the former Yugoslav republic since 2017 and put the country on a path toward EU membership by agreeing to add “North” to its name.
That resolved a decades-old stand-off with Greece, which had viewed the name Macedonia as a claim on its province of the same name.
The EU has not given North Macedonia a green light for membership negotiations yet.