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North Macedonia: New Social Democrat leader tapped for PM

December 29, 2021 GMT
North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski, right, gives a mandate to form a new government to the new country's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, left, at the presidential office in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. Kovacevski, who is backed by 64 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament, should form a new cabinet within 20 days. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski, right, gives a mandate to form a new government to the new country's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, left, at the presidential office in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. Kovacevski, who is backed by 64 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament, should form a new cabinet within 20 days. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski, right, gives a mandate to form a new government to the new country's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, left, at the presidential office in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. Kovacevski, who is backed by 64 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament, should form a new cabinet within 20 days. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
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North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski, right, gives a mandate to form a new government to the new country's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, left, at the presidential office in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. Kovacevski, who is backed by 64 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament, should form a new cabinet within 20 days. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
1 of 5
North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski, right, gives a mandate to form a new government to the new country's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, left, at the presidential office in Skopje, Macedonia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. Kovacevski, who is backed by 64 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament, should form a new cabinet within 20 days. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s president Wednesday nominated Social Democrat party leader Dimitar Kovachevski to become the next prime minister.

The move follows the formal resignation last week of the country’s center-left government to pave the way for new coalition talks. Kovachevski is set to replace Zoran Zaev, who stepped down as prime minister and party leader in the wake of multiple defeats in October in mayoral and local government elections.

A former deputy finance minister, the 47-year-old Kovachevski has allied with the small ethnic Albanian party, Alternative, to create a new coalition which would have 64 seats in the 120-member parliament.

He now has 20 days to formally propose a new government to parliament for ratification. The country’s conservative opposition renewed calls Wednesday for an early general election.

Kovachevski vowed to make efforts to deal with economic insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic the priority of his new government.

He has also promised to invite Bulgarian Prime minister Kiril Petkov in a bid to ease tensions in bilateral relations that have held up North Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union.