UPDATE 1-Macedonia opposition ejected from parliament in row

Kole Casule
Reuters Middle East

* Trouble erupts after acrimonious budget row

* Opposition calls for civil disobedience campaign

* Local media say at least six people injured in clashes

* Deputies brawl in chamber, parliament speaker evacuated

(Adds quotes from opposition leader)

SKOPJE, Dec 24 (Reuters) - The opposition in Macedonia was

ejected from parliament on Monday for brawling, prompting it to

pledge to boycott the chamber and initiate a campaign of civil

disobedience after a rancorous disagreement over the size of

next year's budget.

The incident occurred after thousands of pro- and

anti-government demonstrators clashed outside parliament in

Skopje, the capital, and allowed the government to push through

a vote in favour of its contested budget proposals in which only

just over half of MPs took part.

As opposition MPs scuffled with pro-government counterparts

to try to prevent a debate on a budget they felt was too

profligate from getting underway, security guards evacuated

parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski from the plenary hall.

Security guards then forced opposition deputies out of the

parliament building who joined their supporters in the streets

as the government pushed through a 64-4 vote in favour of its

own budget proposal. Parliament has 120 members.

Branko Crvenkovski, the head of the opposition Social

Democrats, accused the centre-right government of Nikola

Gruevski of suspending democracy.

"From today, Macedonia has no constitution, no parliament,

no government. We have a dictatorial regime on one side and the

people on the other," Crvenkovski said.

"From tomorrow we will begin (a campaign of) civil

disobedience," he told a crowd, without elaborating further.

The government proposed a 148-billion-denari ($3.2 billion)

budget for 2013 last month, forecasting a deficit of 3.5 percent

of gross domestic product. It put growth next year at 2 percent

of GDP.

But the leftwing opposition condemned the budget proposal as

profligate at a time of economic crisis and demanded a cut in it

equivalent to about $260 million. The government refused and the

opposition then submitted about a thousand amendments to the

draft before tensions flared on Monday.

Outside parliament, police had to intervene to separate pro-

and anti-government supporters who pelted one another with

bottles and stones. Local media said at least six people had

been injured.

The ruling rightist VMRO-DPMNE party accused the opposition

of attempting to topple the government. "To do that they

(opposition) mobilised their supporters, some of whom have a

criminal background. ... This will not succeed," the party said

in a statement.

Earlier, Gruevski, who is also head of the VMRO-DPMNE,

accused Crvenkovski of masterminding the crisis: "This is all

about the vanity of one man, of (Branko) Crvenkovski and his

political survival," he said.

Macedonia's economy came out of two quarters of recession in

the third quarter of 2012, posting 0.3 percent GDP growth.

The central bank has cut its 2012 growth forecast to zero

from 2.4 percent, reflecting the negative effect of the euro

zone crisis across the Western Balkans, but sees growth perking

up to 2.6 percent in 2013.

($1 = 0.7590 euros)

(Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Heinrich and

Andrew Osborn)

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