“There are no suitable conditions for the holding of elections on April 24”
Bojan Maricic, head of the Macedonian Center for European Education in Skopje. He is one of the initiators of a letter by 75 NGOs addressed to the European Commission and EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, which demands for the elections to be postponed. This request comes at a time when three political parties, VMRO-DPMNE, BDI (Democratic Union for Integration) and PDSH (Albanian Democratic Party), signatories of the political agreement of June 2 have agreed for the elections to be held on 24 April, but the Macedonian opposition is against this decision. In his interview for IBNA, Maricic explains that there are no suitable conditions for the holding of the 24 April elections, as the much contested electoral list has not been adjusted and the reform in the media has not been carried out.
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti/IBNA
IBNA: You are one of the initiators of the letter that was sent to Brussels. Why must the elections be postponed and why haven’t you suggested any other date?
Maricic: This means that over 75 NGOs have sent a letter to the European Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn to explain to him our concern about the fact that there are no suitable conditions for the holding of April 24 elections, although this date stems from the June 2 agreement, brokered by EU commissioner Hahn.
IBNA: But what are the key points that must be implemented or what are the reforms?
Maricic: A day for the elections has been decided, while the procedure for the adjustment of the voters’ list has not started yet. We know that this issue was the main point of the June 2 agreement. So far there is no agreement for the reforms in the media, for equal air time in the public service and equal control of the regulatory media council. Other priorities recommended by the EU have not been addressed either. One sensible issue is also the control of secret services and the investigation over who carried out the surveillance in the wiretapping case. On the other hand, coalition parties are not stopping their campaign end employment of party militants, at a time when Brussels’ recommendations require reforms.
IBNA: The non government sector was initially a strong supporter of the June 2 agreement for the solution of the crisis which decided for the elections to be held on 24 April. Do you think that the postponement of the elections would annul the agreement, which was a key assurance for the solution of the crisis?
Maricic: As we know, the June 2 agreement didn’t leave lots of time for the reforms and for the implementation of its points. It was difficult to implement it based on the predicted dynamic. Had the implementation started last June, then we would have a very good and productive process. This is why we supported this agreement as an important document to rescue the country, to prevent political clashes and tension and to save people’s lives. We had faith that this agreement would help solve many issues, with the international community as a guarantor.
IBNA: What has been the role of NGOs in the process of monitoring implementation since the agreement was signed?
Maricic: We have been active observers, the same as the citizens who have seen how the implementation of the June 2 agreement has been going on. In the recent months we have seen serious delays in the process of implementation. We must not forget the delays in the creation of the Special Prosecution and the delays in the creation of the technical government, which will be responsible for the holding of the elections. For this, we had a delay of three weeks. We also saw delays in the implementation of the new bill for the electoral reform and the new composition of the Central Election Commission. These are the delays that happened, but on the other hand, we also have things which have not been finalized yet such as the electoral list and the reform in the media.
IBNA: What is your alternative for the solution of this situation and the holding of the elections?
Maricic: We continue to believe that the June 2 agreement is the key instrument for the solution of the crisis. However, this agreement has sometimes been violated, especially by the parties in power, whose only focus were only those points of the agreement where their interests were not at risk. What counts in this process are not only the deadlines of this agreement, which have been violated several times. What counts in this process is also the essence of the Przino agreement, what is in the best interest of the citizens and in the best interest of the next elections, which must be fair and democratic.
IBNA: When do you think the best time would be to hold the elections?
Maricic: As NGOs, we rely on the previous opinion of the new head of the Central Election Commission, Aleksandar Cicakovski, who said that time is needed to adjust the voters’ list. This process requires time, as the methodology of adjustment must also be implemented on field, in order to verify the voters. Thus, the commission will initially make the institutional verification at the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice and other institutions, whereby a period of one to two months is needed. Meanwhile, three to four months are needed to verify the voters. We want CEC to come up with accurate deadlines and with the election date. /ibna/