North Macedonia: Efforts to agree on the election date come up short

North Macedonia: Efforts to agree on the election date come up short

Zaev: Elections are scheduled for 21 June

Talks held between the leaders of the political parties and North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski ended up futile, as no agreement was reached on the date of the elections.

The three-hour long talks did not end with an agreement, as each party had its own preferences for the elections timetable.

After wrapping up the meeting, the leader of the Alliance for Albanians Zijadin Sela stated that it remained yet unclear how the elections would take place, while it was unknown whether there would be a new meeting with the President. Sela believes the elections should take place on July the 26th, since by that time the Central Election Commission will have enough time to prepare for the election process, as the borders will open and international observers will be able to participate.

According to the Central Election Commission, it is not possible to hold elections within 22 days of the lifting of the state of emergency. The ODIHR’s response to whether it could participate with observers in the election process was positive, however a date must be set in order for health and border protocols to be considered.

According to Sela, no compromise was reached at the meeting, as “both parties in North Macedonia remain rock-ribbed behind their views on the date of the elections”. Sela called on all parties to find a shared language of communication because, as he said, there must be political consensus for an election date to be set.

According to the parties’ positions so far, the VMRO-DPMNE is in favor of the elections being held at the end of August or the beginning of September, while the SDSM is in favor of the elections being scheduled at the end of June. The DUI also announced its position in favor of elections in the immediate future. The Alliance for Albanians and the Alternatives are not in favor of the June 21st elections.

DUI leader Ali Ahmeti said after the leaders’ meeting that it was very important for everyone to be held accountable for the state of emergency.

“We know that the country remains without a parliament and has a caretaker government, but at the moment it is under attack by a very dangerous virus. It is imperative that this situation is not politicized. It is important that there is a consensus on the date of the elections, but the health of the people comes first”, said Ahmeti.

According to Bilal Kasami of the Besa movement, it is up to the Government and the President to decide how long the state of emergency will last and then decide on the date of the elections. He called on the institutions to prepare the citizens for the upcoming elections, stressing that he wanted the elections to take place in June.

VMRO-DPMNE chief Hristijan Mickoski initially apologized for the fact that instead of protective measures, the talks revolved around the elections that will endanger, as he believes, the health of citizens, especially at a day when there were 25 new COVID-19 cases. He said alternatives were submitted today, but many legal dilemmas had arisen, with the VMRO-DPMNE raising the issue of electoral lists of the diaspora.

As he argued, the ODIHR was clear – give us a date and we will determine the plausibility of sending a delegation. Thus, Mickoski proposed as dates the 23rd and 30th of August and the 13th of September as, according to the VMRO-DPMNE, the pandemic will subside. According to him, there was an ultimatum from Zaev, but they did not accept it and insisted on these three proposals.

“Oh, dear Lord”, was the reaction of SDSM leader Zoran Zaev to Mickoski’s apology for the meeting because, as he said, both the first and the second meeting were at his request.

“Irresponsibility, immaturity, the sole opinion of the party president have led us not to have an electoral agreement. I have never seen a politician who is so afraid of citizens. Him and VMRO-DPMNE want to prolong the health crisis and not end the political crisis. We will not allow this. The World Health Organization has also issued a warning about the new wave of the epidemic. We have to prepare for that”, said Zaev.

He went on to add that the political parties should ensure the new normality of the citizens as soon as possible.

“Elections have been decided and are scheduled for 21 June”, Zaev said. He stresses that the citizens of North Macedonia and the country’s economy are in need of stable institutions. /ibna