Skopje, 18 January 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Naser Pajaziti
European Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn is not being successful with the brokerage of the political crisis in FYROM. After 12 hours of negotiations in Skopje, Hahn could not convince the leaders of the four political parties to reach compromise on the election day. On one hand, the resigned prime minister, Nikola Gruevski along with the two leaders of the Albanian political parties, demand the holding of the elections on April 24, while on the other hand it’s the social democrat opposition leader, Zoran Zaev who is battling on his own.
Gruevski says that 24 April must be respected, because this date was the date decided in the June 2 agreement in order to overcome the political crisis. But, Zaev says that the elections must be postp0oned, because there are delays in the implementation of the political agreement. According to him, the voters’ lists have not been cleansed yet and no agreement has been reached for the reform in the media.
EU commissioner Hahn and his envoy in Skopje, Peter Van Houte, are nevertheless trying to keep the process going, by encouraging political parties to reach compromise on the election date.
New efforts for an agreement
A new effort emerged on Sunday to restore the process. The European envoy handed to the four political leaders in the country another document in order to find a joint solution. Meanwhile, EU commissioner Hahn has warned the possibility of returning to Skopje, in case the sides are close to striking a deal and agree on the election date. Through a message on Twitter, Hahn has called on political parties to find compromise and not to jeopardize the future of the country.
However, so far, the political parties have not budged from their positions.
In a tactical move, Nikola Gruevski resigned from the post of prime minister, but this was a conditioned decision. In a speech in front of public opinion, Gruevski said that his resignation will come 100 days before the elections. Therefore, he will remain in office in case the elections are postponed. Gruevski will not leave his office in case the elections are not held on 24 April. The same line is also being followed by speaker of parliament, Trajko Veljanovski, who after accepting Gruevski’s resignation, said that it will be conditioned by the election date. According to him, in case there is no agreement for the elections to take place on 24 April, then the resignation will be pending.
State Election Commission and the cleansing of voters’ lists
The entire political crisis is also related to the State Election Commission. It took three months for this commission to be constituted. Meanwhile, now, it has not yet started to work on pending issues such as the cleansing of voters’ lists and other details of the elections. This commission is functioning based on a new law, where the chairman and vice chairman are independent experts and not appointed by political parties. But, even the work of this commission her started with problems. Head of SEC, Aleksandar Cicakovski said yesterday that the cleansing of the voters’ lists cannot take place until 24 April and that it requires more time.
But, the member of the State Election Commission, Saso Srcev, who comes from the ranks of VMRO-DPMNE, said that he doesn’t agree on this. According to him, SEC can organize the elections on 24 April and make all preparations.
The biggest problem relates to the voters’ lists. The opposition says that there are around 200 thousand voters who must be removed from the lists, as there are suspicions for fictitious voters, voters who have been registered with fake IDs and voters from Pustec in Albania. These voters are residents of the Albanian region bordering with FYROM and who consider themselves Slav-Macedonians. Over 4 thousand of them are suspected by the opposition of having being used as voters from the party in power, VMRO-DPMNE. They have been involved in the elections in FYROM since 2011, participating in three elections, which have been organized by the party in power.
Small parties demand the postponement of the elections
Small political parties who have not been involved in the talks, demand for the elections to be postponed. According to them, without delivering the cleaning the voters’ lists, without delivering the reform in the media and other issues, the conditions for free and democratic elections are not suitable. Some of them have demanded for the elections to be postponed for the start of June. They believe that a free and democratic process is more important than the election date.
Albanian opposition parties have accused the two parties, BDI and PDSH of becoming part of the policies of resigning prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, as they have kept the same position as him in relation to the holding of elections on 24 April. The political crisis has raised the concerns of the citizens and this crisis will also have an impact in the economy.
“The country is in a difficult situation. I believe that the political elite, parliament and every other institution must pay special attention to this situation. It’s not only this, but also the economic crisis and the Euro Atlantic perspective”, was the warning sent by EU Enlargement Commissioner Hahn before his departure from Skopje. /ibna/