News 04 Dec 12

Report Shames Macedonia's Missing MPs

Report by Macedonian parliament says the two chief legislators representing Macedonia's Albanians, Ali Ahmeti and Menduh Thaci, did not show up once at a session of parliament in the first half of 2012.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian parliament

A report on the performance of Macedonian MPs has named the two leaders of the main ethnic Albanian parties as the worst offenders in Macedonia when it comes to no-shows in parliament.

The parliament’s MPs’ performance report dubbed ‘My Legislator’ is published twice a year.

Ahmeti, the leader of the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, the junior party in government, was absent for 92 days when parliament was in session in the first half of 2012, the report said.

His political rival, Thaci, who heads the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, was no better.

A third MP, Fijat Canoski, was present in the chamber only seven times, his colleague, Irfan Deari, showed up nine times while Risto Mancev attended 28 times.

Depending on their involvement in various committees, Macedonian legislators earn monthly salaries between €1,000 and €1,100.

In comparison, average monthly salaries in the country are around €350.

The speaker of parliament, Trajko Veljanovski, said he was not happy with their absences but there was little that he could do.

“That’s their decision. As long as legislators duly announce their absence before the start of the session, according to the rule book, there is not much I can do,” he said.

Only 10 of the 123 members of the assembly were present for all 92 days when parliament was in session.

According to parliamentary rules, MPs have no obligation to seek medical approval for their absences from sessions.

But one former speaker of parliament, Tito Petkovski, said the rules needed clearly updating.

“This all has to change," he said, adding that MPs ought to obey the same rules "as with all other employees in the country” who have to explain their absence from work.

The former DPA leader, Arben Xhaferi, was the worst offender in most previous reports on MPs attendance.

However, Xhaferi had mobility issues having struggled for years with Parkinson’s disease, dying in August this year, aged 64.

The first MPs’ performance report was published in 2007 by the local NGO MOST as a tool designed to make members of parliament more accountable to citizens. More recently parliament has started publishing its own reports.

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