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News 17 Aug 17

Macedonia MPs Sack Controversial Chief Prosecutor

After more than a month of delays imposed by the opposition, the government on Thursday finally dismissed Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski – a close ally of the former regime.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Marko Zvrlevski. Photo: MIA

With 64 votes for the dismissal and none against in Macedonia's 120-seat parliament, the majority led by the Social Democrats, SDSM, dismissed the controversial Public Prosecutor, Marko Zvrlevski, a key ally of the now ousted VMRO DPMNE-led government.

The vote took place after MPs from the opposition VMRO DPMNE party left the chamber in protest.

Zvrelvski's dismissal was seen as a priority by the new SDSM-led government of Zoran Zaev, which took power in late May.

However, the lengthy debates held by VMRO DPMNE MPs, and their frequent calls for recesses, to stall parliament's work, kept the matter stuck in the assembly.

The breakthrough occurred on Wednesday evening when VMRO DPMNE MPs said they would stop filibustering, having proven their point that Zvrlevski's dismissal was illegitimate.

They ceased their delaying tactics after the state Anti-Corruption Commission, a parliamentary body appointed during the VMRO DPMNE era, issued an opinion in their favour, deeming the dismissal illegitimate due to the ongoing preparations for the local elections slated for October.

However, as the body was not tasked to investigate the issue, its ruling has no influence over parliament's work.

During his term in office, Zvrlevski was accused of being overly close to former Prime Minister and VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski, and of a taking a selective approach to the many corruption scandals that jeopardised Gruevski's grip on power.
 
The procedure to appoint Zvrlevski's successor is expected to last at least one month. Unofficially, the race for this post has begun. The names of several prominent lawyers and university professors are already being circulated as possible candidates.

Due to the long blockade of the session tasked with removing Zvrlevski, other significant bills pushed by Macedonia's new government have got also stuck in the pipeline.

Among them is the bill to increase the minimum wage from 150 to 200 euros a month as well as a bill increasing welfare support for workers in bankrupt state-owned companies.

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