Reuters International

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov prepares to cast his ballots at a polling station in Skopje April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday slammed Macedonia's decision to pardon suspects involved in a government wiretap operation and called on President Gjorge Ivanov to reconsider his decision.

In a statement, the State Department expressed concern with the president's decision saying it would "protect corrupt officials and deny justice to the people of Macedonia."

"As a friend of Macedonia, the United States strongly urges President Ivanov to reconsider his decision, and to let the Special Prosecutor’s Office, established as part of the Przino Agreement, investigate serious allegations of government wrongdoing, and to allow the courts to do their jobs," the State Department said.

Macedonia has been in turmoil since the opposition accused then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his counter-intelligence chief last year of orchestrating the wiretapping of more than 20,000 people.

The scandal erupted after the opposition released a slew of phone-taps they said were made by allies of Gruevski and exposed government control over journalists, judges, public sector recruitment and the manipulation of elections.

The opposition has demanded Ivanov's resignation calling his decision to halt all criminal investigations a "coup."

The European Union also sharply criticized Ivanov's decision on Tuesday as contrary to the rule of law.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, editing by G Crosse)

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