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News 27 Mar 17

Macedonia Parliament Reconvenes Amid Crisis

After a three month delay, Macedonia's parliament is set to resume sessions on Monday in an effort to elect a new speaker and unblock the democratic processes amid a deep political rift.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Macedonian Parliament. Photo: MIA

Parliament has two topics on its agenda: The election of a commission for appointments, which was agreed on last Thursday between the political parties, as well as the election of a new speaker.

The new parliamentary majority comprising the main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), and most ethnic Albanian parties, hopes to get the work done as soon as possible, which would pave the way for the new government to be swiftly elected.

Together they control 67 MPs sitting in the 120-seat parliament.

"We expect on Monday, and in the days to come, serious and stately conduct from the institutions who must respect the will of the majority of the citizens, and facilitate the election of a new speaker and of a new government!" said SDSM in a press release published Sunday.

The party once again urged their political rivals, the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE party led by embattled former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, to stop obstructing the election of a new administration, which they say holds Macedonia hostage. Gruevski served as prime minister from 2006 for nearly a decade.

“We won't allow Macedonia to be stuck in further political crisis due to Gruevski and his associates’ fears of change and facing justice – the new reform government will be formed soon” SDSM said.

Over the weekend, the country’s main ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), said that it would put forward its seasoned MP and former Defence Minister, Talat Xhaferi as the new speaker. It is expected that the SDSM will endorse this proposal.

Macedonia's has not managed to form a new government since early elections in December last year. They were held in the hope that a two-year-long political crisis could be resolved.

The crisis took a turn for the worse on March 1 this year, when current president Gjorge Ivanov refused to grant SDSM leader Zoran Zaev the mandate to form a government, despite the opposition leader having secured a majority in parliament.

Ivanov, reflecting the stands of VMRO-DPMNE, said that Zaev’s alleged acceptance of the so-called “Albanian Platform” might destroy the country.

The resumption of parliament's work comes amid ongoing daily protests held by VMRO-DPMNE supporters against the announced opposition-led government.

The opposition however hopes that once the majority elects the new speaker, President Ivanov would have no more excuses not to grant the mandate.

While VMRO-DPME has seen its leaders faced confronted by ongoing criminal investigations and Special Prosecution indictments, it nsists that its political adversary, SDSM, is the one being corrupt.

“In an attempt to save himself and his comrades, who are up to their necks in crime, Zaev is prepared to completely implement the 'Tirana [Albanian] Platform' and thus redefine Macedonia,” the party said in a press release on Sunday, reiterating its demand for yet another round of early elections as the best way out of the current stalemate.

The resumption of parliament's work comes more than three months after the December 11 elections and after parliament first reassembled on December 30.

However, that session was held only to verify MPs' mandates. The session was interrupted because no party or coalition then mustered a majority that could elect a new speaker.

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