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News 20 Mar 14

Macedonia Police Deny Tampering With Electoral Roll

Macedonian police minister dismisses opposition claims that fake IDs and addresses are being handed out  to people in preparation for the general and presidential elections in April.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonian Police Minister, Gordana Jankuloska

The Macedonian Police Minister, Gordana Jankuloska, on Wednesday insisted her ministry was "clean" and was playing no role in management of the electoral roll.

Jankuloska’s statement came a day after the main opposition Social Democratic Party, SDSM, as well as the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, disputed the accuracy of the electoral roll.

The SDSM said it believes at least 26,000 listed voters do not belong on the roll because they are either dead, or have fictional residencies in the country.

The party said it suspected non-existent voters were being kept on the roll, and would be used to tip election results in the government’s favour.

The opposition party also cried foul last week when police said they would continue issuing IDs to people in a shortened procedure, even after the official checkup of the electoral roll ends on March 30. The police insisted that this move is necessary to ease voting.

“The police are manipulating the public because issuing IDs in shortened procedure only makes sense during the public inspection of the electoral roll,” the SDSM secretary general, Oliver Spasovski, said.

“The [Police] ministry conducts all activities prescribed by the law with maximum professionalism,” Jankuloska replied, dismissing opposition claims as “self-promotion attempts”.

The Police Ministry is the only institution in Macedonia that keeps an operational registry of citizens’ IDs, which is the basis for the country’s electoral roll.

However, Jankuloska insisted that the content of the electoral roll is exclusively in the hands of the State Electoral Commission, DIK.

“As for the electoral roll, I cannot answer whether someone will be erased or added, based on complaints, because I am not a member of the DIK,” she said.

In February, the recently appointed head of DIK, Nikola Rilkoski, said the body could not dismiss doubts that a large number of fictional or deceased voters remained on the electoral roll because the check-up was still in the hands of the police and the statistical office, so the commission had no way of overseeing what they do.

The DIK has until Thursday to answer all complaints and if any parties remain discontented, they must then appeal to the Administrative Court.

In April, Macedonians will choose both a new head of state and 123 MPs in parliament. Close to 1.8 million people are eligible to vote.

The general elections are considered the more important of the two, as they will determine who will hold the most powerful post in the country, that of Prime Minister.

This is the third early general election in a row since Nikola Gruevski, leader of the VMRO DPMNE party, became Prime Minister in 2006.

Gruevski’s junior partner in government, the DUI, has said it also also suspects irregularities in the roll that could allow some people to vote more than once.

The party has filed complaint to the DIK about some 500 people listed on the roll that they say appear as voters both in the Macedonian embassy in Albania as well as in municipalities in Macedonia.

The party said that these Albanian residents of Macedonian decent need to be erased from the electoral roll in Macedonia.

The electoral roll has been a matter of controversy in Macedonia for some time. The OSCE, which has monitored Macedonian elections in the past, has described it as unusually large for a country of just over 2 million people.

In local elections held last March and April, allegations of irregularities linked to the electoral roll also marred the vote.

The Social Democrats then accused the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of attempting to rig the elections in Skopje and in other areas by permitting organised voting by Macedonians from Albania who were allegedly given fake Macedonian residency permits by the Police Ministry and brought in to vote.

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