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News 12 May 14

Macedonian President's Inauguration Marred by Boycott

The opposition and the largest Albanian party boycotted the inauguration of Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov for his second five-year term amid continuing political disputes.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov | Photo by: president.gov.mk

The inaugural session in parliament on Monday was held in a half-empty hall, with almost the entire opposition and the junior ruling Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, refusing to attend.

There were also no foreign dignitaries present at the inauguration, with only the representatives of the diplomatic corps joining MPs from the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Ivanov was the VMRO DPMNE candidate in last month’s presidential polls, which were held simultaneously with a parliamentary vote that saw the ruling party win 61 of the 123 seats. The opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, alleged that the vote was fraudulent and refused to recognise it.

The only other party present in parliament for Ivanov’s inauguration was the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, which has seven MPs.

In his speech, Ivanov called on his opponents to end their resistance.

“I call for narrow political party interests to be overcome. I call on the opposition to be true to democratic principles. Democracy functions when the rules of play and the constitution are respected,” he said.

The absence of the opposition led by the SDSM was expected.

Since losing in both the general and presidential elections, which the party has blamed on election fraud, the SDSM has refused to take up its 34 seats in parliament. It has instead demanded the formation of a caretaker government that would carry out fresh elections.

The junior ruling DUI party, which won most votes in the Albanian political bloc, also boycotted the event despite the fact that the DUI is currently holding talks with VMRO DPMNE on the formation of the new government.

“One has nothing to do with the other. These are two different institutions,” explained Artan Grubi, the chief of DUI’s head Ali Ahmeti’s office.

The DUI, which has been part of the VMRO DPMNE-led government since 2008, and which controls 19 MPs, has said that it will not recognize Ivanov as president because of the way he was elected.

The DUI boycotted the presidential polls, having demanded the selection of a “consensus president” who would be elected in parliament following an agreement between the strongest parties in the Macedonian and Albanian blocs.

The two ruling parties used this disagreement as an official reason for setting up the parallel general elections.

Meanwhile parliamentary speaker Trajko Veljanovski was re-elected to his post at the inaugural session of the new parliament on Saturday. The opposition did not take part at that session either, although the DUI was present.

At the weekend, the VMRO DPMNE and DUI said that the country’s economic progress and Euro-Atlantic path remain common denominators for their future cooperation, but they could not agree on the issue of the presidency.

“Some of the leaders of one political party insist on election of some kind of ‘consensus president’, a category that does not exist in the constitution, nor in the Ohrid Framework Accord,” Ivanov insisted during his inauguration speech.

The Ohrid agreement was signed in 2001 by the leading political parties in the country, ending that year’s brief armed conflict between the security forces and Albanian insurgents. Signed under international patronage, the accord granted greater rights to country’s Albanians, after which the insurgents disbanded and their leaders later formed the DUI.

The small ethnic Albanian National Democratic Rebirth party, NDR, also boycotted Ivanov’s inauguration. The NDR has decided to spurn the single seat it won in parliament, claiming election fraud.

After taking the presidency, Ivanov will now officially offer a mandate for the formation of a new government to the Prime Minister Gruevski. The deadline for the formation of the administration is June 16.

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