I have been asked “why an interim government?” Macedonia last had elections about four months before my group of volunteers arrived. However, the opposition claims that the elections were rife with fraud. They have been calling for new elections ever since. Shortly after we arrived in country the opposition party started releasing “bombs” they claimed proved the rigged elections and were demanding the immediate resignation of the current government. These bombs were taped conversations between various government officials. Some have included directions to judges on how to rule on various cases. And some of them actually caused a couple of high ranking officials to resign. I don’t know if these tapes are authentic or created so I cannot and will not comment on them or their validity. There have been “bombs” and protests for almost 6 months. It was getting very ugly. Peace Corps advised volunteers to stay away from the center of Skopje because of these massive protests. The European Union was concerned about this as well as Macedonia is a candidate for EU membership. An EU commissioner stepped in and helped the two parties come to an agreement on new elections. The agreement included having the incumbents step down and establishing an interim government to run the country and make sure the elections are honest and an accurate reflection of the will of the people. They were concerned that if the incumbents ran the election, they would guarantee that they were re-elected. Interestingly enough the president is not up for election and will not step down. He is really just a figure head and has very little power other than ceremonial functions and to form this interim government with the help of the three parties standing for election. Fortunately, the process here will be much shorter than the current process back in the US. We are beginning to get a little bit of political rhetoric now but I suspect we will see a lot more after 15 January. I’m sure we will probably be subject to more safety warnings as the Balkan people are very passionate about EVERYTHING!