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News 29 May 17

Zaev Unveils New Cabinet in Macedonia

Prime Minister-designate Zoran Zaev's new cabinet, likely to be approved this week, will contain 25 ministers, most of whom come from his own Social Democratic Party, SDSM, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, and the Alliance for Albanians.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Macedonian Prime Minister-designate, Zoran Zaev. Photo: sdsm

Zoran Zaev revealed the composition of his cabinet late Sunday, which parliament is expected to approved this week. Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferi has set the date for the session to start on Tuesday.

The key posts are to be shared between Zaev’s Social Democratic Party, SDSM, and Macedonia's main ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

While the SDSM-led alliance which holds 49 of the 120 seats in parliament, has appointed 17 ministers, the DUI, which controls ten seats, has appointed six and the Alliance for Albanians, which has three MPs, has appointed two.

Besa [Oath], the second-largest ethnic Albanian party, decided not to join the new government but will support it in parliament.

The two Albanian parties plus the SDSM together control 62 of the 120 seats in parliament and - with the external support of Besa - that number reaches 67.

SDSM vice-president Radmila Shekerinska will run the Defence Ministry while the party's secretary-general, Oliver Spasovski, will be the new Interior Minister.

Veteran diplomat Nikola Dimitrov, who was a VMRO-DPMNE dissident and a critic of the previous government, led by Nikola Gruevski, will be the Foreign Minister.

Mila Carovska, from the SDSM, will run the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies while Dragan Tevdovski, from the same party, will be the new Finance Minister.

Renata Deskoska will be the new Education Minister while the Agriculture Ministry will be led by Ljupco Nikolovski. Goran Sugareski will be the new Transport Minister and Robert Alagjozovski will head the Ministry of Culture.

Damjan Mancevski will be Information Society and Administration Minister.

The SDSM-led alliance has also appointed seven ministers without portfolio, Koco Angjushev, Robert Popovski, Edmond Ademi, Adnan Kjahil, Samka Ibraimovski, Zorica Apostolovska and Zoran Sapuric.

Meanwhile, Hazbi Lika, from the DUI, will be Vice Prime Minister in charge of the 2001 Framework Accord [the agreement that ended an amed uprising by ethnic Albanians in the country] while Bujar Osmani will lead European integration processes.

Sadulla Duraku will be the new Environment Minister while Bulent Saliu will be the new Justice Minister.

Kreshnik Bektashi will be the new Economy Minister while Ramiz Merko will be a minister without portfolio in charge of attracting foreign investment.

The Alliance for Albanians will have two ministers: Arben Taravari, at Health, and Suhel Fazliu, running Local Government.

Macedonia had been without a new government since early general elections on December 11 failed to resolve an ongoing political crisis centering on allegations of wiretapping and corruption by the previous government led by the VMRO-DPMNE party.

Zaev finally obtained the presidential mandate to form the new government on May 17.

The new government faces the daunting task of rebuilding institutions, financial consolidation and curbing corruption, if it is to live up to its promises.

Observers say Macedonia needs deep reform of the justice system as well as the reestablishment of professional standards in the police in order to deal with what is regarded as a widespread culture of corruption – a legacy of the previous government, which was accused of “hijacking” state institutions and of relying on authoritarian practices.

The re-establishment of strong professional institutions and an administration free from the tight grip of political parties is a priority, they say, if the country is to restore a sense of the rule of law and of justice and equal opportunities.

Removing the government's grip on the media and the business sector is another must if Macedonia is to become a genuine democracy, revive its stagnating economy and eventually join NATO and the EU.

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