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News 13 Mar 17

Macedonia President Defends Refusal to Offer Mandate

As President Ivanov maintains his refusal to award a mandate to form a new government to the opposition leader, Zoran Zaev, the parties that make up the new majority in parliament have launched talks on electing a new speaker.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonian President, Gjorge Ivanov: Photo: MIA

The office of Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov on Monday said the obstacles preventing him from awarding a mandate to the opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev had not been removed.

This is despite calls by the opposition and the international community for the President not to further delay the formation of a new government.

"President Ivanov maintains his position from his March 1 public address. The obstacles preventing awarding the mandate for a new government are not cleared," Ivanov's cabinet said in a press release.

Ivanov refused to award Zaev a mandate to form a government on March 1, despite the opposition leader having assembled a majority in parliament.

He claimed that Zaev’s alleged acceptance of the so-called “Albanian Platform” of a group of ethnic Albanian parties might destroy the country.

Last Friday, Zaev unveiled his new government platform in a fresh attempt to persuade the President to give him the mandate, saying the platform contained proof that the new government will not violate the terms of the constitution.

Meanwhile, the political parties that form the new majority in parliament on Monday started talks on electing a new parliament speaker, in an attempt to address the second "procedural" obstacle that Ivanov listed for not offering the mandate.

According to estimates, if talks between the Social Democrats, SDSM, and the ethnic Albanian partiess go well, the session of the parliament could take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

"We hope to wrap this as soon as possible, so we can move things forward," a senior SDSM source told BIRN on Monday under condition of anonymity.

In March 1, besides objecting to the "Albanian Platform", Ivanov said he could not give Zaev a mandate because there was still no speaker who would formally inform him about the parliamentary majority.

Since the December 11 elections, has parliament convened only once to start its constitutive session.

However that session on December 30 was interrupted shortly after the verification of the MPs' mandates as there was no majority in parliament to elect a new speaker.

Since December 11 early elections failed to produce a clear winner, the SDSM have accused Ivanov of deliberately stalling the election of a new government, despite his merely procedural role in awarding the mandate, to help the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party to cling onto power.

SDSM's Zaev now commands a majority of 67 of the 120 seats in parliament.

VMRO DPMNE over the weekend repeated that the best solution would be another snap election, in which the "Albanian Platform", which it insists was imposed by another country, Albania, would be the main issue.

Alternatively, it has called on Zaev to outright reject the platform, which was a joint precondition agreed between the main ethnic Albanian parties for their participation in any future government.
The platforms contains a set of measures designed to boost Albanian rights in Macedonia, starting with increased official use of Albanian.
Since VMRO DPMNE failed to form a government coalition with the Albanian parties, the party and its supporters on the streets have launched an aggressive campaign against the newly announced opposition-led government, insisting it has the potential to destroy Macedonia's sovereignty and integrity.

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