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News 16 Mar 17

Macedonia's Parliament Expected to Resume Sessions

The new parliamentary majority in Macedonia, led by the Social Democrats, SDSM, will file on Thursday or Friday an official request for the recall of the assembly in order to elect a new speaker.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Macedonia's Parliament. Archive photo: MIA

Acting on the announced demand of the parties that form the new majority in Macedonia's parliament, the current provisional speaker, Trajko Veljanoski, is expected to schedule resumption of the constitutive session in the assembly in the next few days.

"This is the first step we are taking towards unblocking parliament's work," a well-informed Social Democrat source told BIRN under condition of anonymity, adding: "We expect that Veljanovski will set the session as soon as possible."

The initiative comes more than three months after the December 11 elections and some 80 days 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.

The initiative follows days of talks between the Social Democrats, SDSM, and their ethnic Albanian partners parties over what to do next after the President, Gjorge Ivanov, refused to offer the SDSM leader Zoran Zaev a mandate to form a government. The new majority controls 67 of the 120 seats in parliament.

The name of the new would-be speaker has not been revealed. Unofficially, a proposal is expected to come from the ranks of the leading ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

DUI leader Ali Ahmeti on Wednesday divulged some elements of the strategy he had discussed with the SDSM head, Zaev.

"All efforts are being put towards getting the parliament back to work and electing the parliamentary bodies. Then the [new] speaker should file an official request to the President to award a mandate for [forming] a new government," Ahmeti said.

The SDSM on Thursday again called on the President to stop stalling the election of a new opposition-led government, demanding a quick solution to the political stalemate and a peaceful transfer of power.

The SDSM also urged the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party led by Nikola Gruevski to accept going into opposition.

"If VMRO DPMNE truly wishes for unified and sovereign Macedonia and cares for the citizens' needs, it should right away openly support the platform of the new reform-oriented government, accept being an opposition and allow a peaceful transfer of power," the SDSM said.

While Veljanovski, who comes from the ranks of the VMRO DPMNE, has not yet confirmed receiving the initiative, media reports indicate that the session and the election of a new speaker may happen within the next four days, before the expected visit of the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

Although his visit is not confirmed, it is thought Hahn might visit Macedonia next Tuesday, with the intention of boosting the stalled efforts to form a new government.

Ivanov refused to award Zaev a mandate to form a government on March 1, despite the opposition leader having assembled a majority in parliament, claiming that Zaev’s alleged acceptance of the so-called “Albanian Platform”, containing the joint demands of a group of ethnic Albanian parties, might destroy the country.

Zaev dismissed the allegation while presenting his government platform last week which he insisted would guarantee the integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia. He said the President was using his veto to help the former ruling party cling onto power.

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