Macedonia: Protests grow after president pardoned statesmen

Protests are growing in Macedonia after the country's president issued a pardon terminating all criminal proceedings against conservative former prime minister Nikola Gruevski, his security chief, and several members of his cabinet.

Thousands of opposition supporters gathered in the capital Skopje for a second day Wednesday to demand the resignation of President Gjorge Ivanov.

Ivanov issued pardons for 56 people from both the ruling parties and the opposition Tuesday, citing the need for national reconciliation. The country's official gazette on Wednesday said mayors, businessmen and judges were among those pardoned, as well as opposition leader Zoran Zaev.

The pardons were issued ahead of early elections on June 5, called after months of political crisis triggered by wiretapping and corruption scandals.

Zaev has angrily criticized the pardons, demanding the president's resignation.