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news 13 Dec 17

Bonuses Scandal Rocks Macedonia’s Electoral Commission

All but one of the members of Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission resigned this week amid a scandal sparked by bonus payments that they awarded themselves for the recent local elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Members of the Macedonian Electoral Commission. Photo: MIA

Eight out of nine members of the State Electoral Commission tendered their resignations to parliament this week, mostly citing moral reasons, after a scandal over their bonus payments for October’s local elections sparked public outrage.

The head of the Commission, Aleksandar Cicakovski, and Commission members Violeta Duma and Igor Milev were the first to resign on Monday, sparking a series of resignations by other members as well.

“I think that this [act of] transparency should serve as an example to all institutions, but to us as well,” Commission member Subhi Jakupi said in a press release on Tuesday while tendering his resignation.

The payments were revealed on December 4 by the US ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily.

At an anti-corruption lecture that Baily gave at the Skopje Faculty of Security Studies, he mentioned that the commission members had awarded themselves with four additional monthly payments for their work during the October elections.

Although legally, since 2014, the commission has the discretionary right to award itself bonuses during elections, the remark by the ambassador sparked a voluble public debate and calls for the commission members to resign on moral grounds.

Most of the members have said they will either donate the money they took to charity, or return it to the state budget.

The exact amount that the commission members awarded themselves in bonuses has not yet been revealed. The monthly salary for commission members amounts to around 1,000 euros, much is more than the national average salary, which is just over 300 euros.

The fight against the widespread corruption and ensuring transparent governance is listed among the priorities for the new government of Zoran Zaev, elected in May.

Zaev hailed the resignations as a good move.

For many years, reports coming from Brussels and Washington have pinpointed corruption as one of Macedonia’s biggest concerns.

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