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News 15 May 17

Macedonia Nationalists Accuse VMRO DPMNE of Betrayal

Hard-line supporters of the VMRO DPMNE party that ran Macedonia for 11 years say they are outraged that the party has broken its promise not to allow the opposition take power.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
VMRO DPMNE HQ in Skopje. Photo: BIRN

As the formation of a new government in Macedonia under the Social Democrats, SDSM, looms ever closer,  supporters of the once unassailable VMRO DPMNE party - which governed the country for 11 years - say they feel betrayed by their own leadership.

Like many of his co-protesters in the "For United Macedonia" movement, which has been taking to the streets in Skopje for over 70 days, protesting against the announced election of a new government, Sotir, aged 34, says he is frustrated that his party is now passively awaiting the prospect of an SDSM-led administration.

"They are now holding press conferences instead of taking action and arresting those [MPs] who committed a coup [by electing a new speaker in parliament]," he complained.

"They have been calling on us, the people, to take matters into our own hands and defend the country but when we did that, they retreated and called us bullies! This is the ultimate betrayal and they should be ashamed of themselves!" Sotir told BIRN on Thursday.

Party diehards say they are angry that VMRO DPMNE failed to prevent the election of a new speaker of parliament, Talat Xaferi, on April 27, which paves the way for the election of the new government.

They say the party has failed to protect its own supporters who stormed the parliament building that night, and now face criminal prosecution.

"You either react or it is time for new people. It is enough talking, it is time for action," Pance Dibranov wrote on VMRO DPMNE's Facebook page. "If you [VMRO DPMNE] defend us like this, I ask you to stop doing it," he added.

Many supporters have turned to Facebook to demand that the party, which still controls the interim government, start arresting opposition MPs for attempting what they call the "coup" over the speaker, and not idly watch the the new speaker take up his post.

Ratko Mirkovski told party leaders that they should either "lead the people or [submit] collective resignations. There are other brave people inside VMRO!"

Vlado Georgiev, who has been identified by police as one of those who stormed the parliament on April 27 on Facebook accused VMRO DPMNE MPs of betraying them.

He accused the VMRO DPMNE MPs of "sitting like sissies while the Albanian anthem was being sung" in parliament - the new apeaker is an ethnic Albanian - continuing with other expletives.

"You have ... denounced us as bullies! I am ... denouncing you as traitors!!! We are VMRO-members!!! You are [an unprintable term] and communists, disguised as 'Komiti' [Macedonian Ottoman-Era revolutionaries]," Georgiev wrote.

Macedonian police have pinpointed some 30 alleged attackers of MPs and the prosecution has filed criminal charges against 11 of them, two of whom will stand trial for attempted murder.

Despite what its frustrated supporters say, VMRO DPMNE condemned the arrests of those who stormed parliament as a “politically motivated” act and as an attempt to intimidate and hunt down “innocent patriots”.

Party rubbishes speculation about resignations:

The party has so far refrained from directly commenting on the dissatisfaction expressed by some of its supporters.

VMRO DPMNE denied that its leader Nikola Gruevski is preparing to resign. Photo: MIA


However, in press statements, it has rejected speculation that party leader Nikola Gruevski may step down soon.

"Gruevski remains by far the most popular politician in the country," it said, adding: "VMRO DPMNE won the December 11 elections".

However, calls for his resignation keep on coming. In an open letter to Gruevski published on Wednesday, one of the VMRO DPMNE party's founders, Vladimir Zmejkovski, wrote: "The time when you should have submitted your resignation and left VMRO DPMNE to honest Macedonian activists has long passed".

Zmejkovski accused Gruevski of ordering the violent attack on parliament but of later distancing himself from those who took part, "thus cowardly running away from your great responsibility to your own people".

A former VMRO DPMNE MP close to the leadership told BIRN under condition of anonymity that he was not surprised by the supporters' feeling of outrage.

"The leadership called on its supporters to mobilize, hinting that they would stand firmly by them and not allow the destruction of Macedonia. Now ... people are right to feel betrayed and duped," the source said.

The party lost its chance to form a new government after it failed to renew its former alliance with the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, following the December 11 election.

Since then, VMRO DPMNE has been calling for another general election, urging its supporters to meanwhile mobilize in defence of the country.

The party has insisted that if the Social Democrats take power in alliance with ethnic Albanian parties, they will sacrifice Macedonia's integrity as a country by conceding too much to Albanians who make up about a quarter of the population.

But, with the new speaker now in place, and after President Ivanov seemed to soften his opposition to the SDSM  following the April 27 violence, most observers now expect the new government to be formed by the end of this month.

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