Macedonian parliament has formally approved the replacement of the interior and transport ministers in Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's cabinet amid an escalating political crisis in the Balkan nation.

Parliament approved the replacements in a 71-2 vote with one abstention. The opposition was not present as it has been boycotting parliament.

Macedonia is facing its deepest political crisis since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The opposition claims that the government illegally wiretapped the phones of 20,000 people, including police, judges, religious leaders, journalists and foreign diplomats.

The government, which denies the allegations, is facing opposition-organized mass protests next weekend. The opposition Social Democrats are calling for the resignation of Gruevski's government and a new election.