Macedonian parties trade accusations on parl attack

Macedonian parties trade accusations on parl attack Andreja Stojkovski/Twitter.

SKOPJE (Macedonia), April 28 (SeeNews) - The two main Macedonian parties - the conservative VMRO and the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) - blamed each other on Friday for the attack on the country's parliament a day earlier, describing it as a "provocation". 

On Thursday evening, a dozen supporters of former prime minister and VMRO leader Nikola Gruevski stormed the parliament building following the election of Talat Xhaferi, member of the ethnic Albanians' DUI party, for parliament speaker. Three members of parliament, seventy citizens and twenty two policemen sought help in hospital after the attack, according to a police report.

Gruevski condemned the attack, saying that he is always against violence regardless who incites it, and blamed SDSM and the Albanian parties for electing a parliament speaker in a non-legitimate manner.

"... I condemn the way in which SDSM and the other parties supporting them decided today to attempt to illegally elect a parliament speaker, obviously breaking all democratic and legal procedures, and thus consciously contributed to rising tensions and the polarisation in our society,” Gruevski told a news conference.

For his part, SDSM leader defined Thursday's events as "a planned attempt at murder". 

"The violence towards the legitimately elected representatives has been incited by Nikola Gruevski, Gjorge Ivanov, Trajko Veljanoski, Mitko Chavkov and a group of their associates, who refused to hand down the power of rule and to adhere to justice and responsibility. They were prepared to sacrifice the civil and national interests to their personal benefit," SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said during a news conference on Friday. 

Both leaders called upon citizens to remain peaceful and calm.

Macedonia has been locked in a political crisis since January 2015, when Zaev accused the coalition government led by VMRO-DPMNE of corruption, illegal wiretapping of more than 20,000 people and covering-up a murder. Early elections held in December as part of an EU-brokered deal have failed resolve the crisis and no government has been formed so far.

A local analyst told SeeNews on Friday that the attack on Macedonia's parliament on Thursday was instigated by Gruevski and his party with the aim to provoke a backlash and lead to the proclamation of a state of emergency.

"Police actions were badly organised, especially compared to last year's protests, policemen were even recorded to greet the protesters and sing nationalistic songs with them," Andreja Stojkovski, president and senior researcher at the Skopje-based EUROTHINK - Centre for European Strategies, told SeeNews in a phone call referring to videos posted on the internet. Speaking from inside parliament, MPs of Gruevski's party called on protesters to take matters in their own hands, he added.

"The idea of the conducted violence was to incite reaction from the other side particularly by the Albanian community, making this an inter-ethnic conflict," he said.

Earlier on Friday, interim interior minister Agim Nuhiu resigned from his post citing as main reason for his decision the political influence in the ministry's structure.  

"Part of the employees of the ministry, instead of performing their work obligations, act upon orders of political centres which is something to be most severally condemned and must be sanctioned," Nuhiu said.

However, according to university professor Tanja Karakamiseva, the situation is "a classical case of putsch", and a provocation under foreign directing.

Xhaferi is not a legitimate parliament speaker, Karakamiseva commented for local television Sitel.

According to Stojkovski, however, Xhaferi was elected in a procedure prescribed by the Parliament by-laws, by a majority of MPs, making, making his election legitimate. "During his election, there were more than one hundred MPs present in the main hall of the Parliament and they all participated in the decision,” Stojkovski said.

“We now have a functioning parliament that has a president. This functioning parliament needs to continue working and to go through with election of a new reformist government,” he said. The president should now to give a mandate to the candidate of the new parliamentary majority, which is highly unlikely to happen, he commented.

VMRO-DPMNE won a narrow victory against SDSM in the December 11 snap vote and received a mandate to form a government. However, it failed to agree with ethnic Albanian party DUI on forming a government coalition.

In March, president Gjorge Ivanov announced that he would not give the mandate for the formation of government to Zaev despite the proof of parliamentary majority which Zaev had submitted to him, as he was concerned that SDSM's agreement with ethnic Albanian parties on the formation of a coalition cabinet would jeopardize the country's sovereignty. Those parties have pegged their participation in the future government to the acceptance of the so-called Tirana platform - a list of political demands they put forward following consultations with Albania's prime minister Edi Rama, he said. 

Ivanov's decision has been criticised by EU, NATO and U.S. officials.


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