The Macedonian parliament has approved plans for a special commission to consider an initiative for launching the impeachment of President Gjorge Ivanov over his controversial decision to pardon dozens of politicians.
The commission will have to decide whether the proposal from the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) to impeach Ivanov is justified. However, the chances of the commission deciding in favour of impeachment are slim, as it is dominated by members of the governing VMRO-DPMNE party, which supports the president. If the commission does accept the SDSM’s initiative, it would still require backing from a two-thirds majority parliament, meaning support from VMRO-DPMNE MPs would be needed.
The proposal to establish the commission was approved with 52 votes in favour and 33 against, according to an MTV live broadcast from the parliament.
Prior to the vote, there was a lengthy debate in the assembly, with the opposition contesting the disproportional representation of the parties in the 11-member commission, with VMRO-DPMNE having six members and SDSM only two.
DUI will also have two members, while another opposition party, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), will be represented by one member.
Zoran Ilioski from the governing party was appointed as president of the commission.
The motion was filed on May 27 by the SDSM and was backed by the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the junior partner in the government.
Also on May 27, Ivanov, under domestic and international pressure, revoked his pardons for 22 of the 56 politicians. The decision to partially rescind the pardons has been criticized by the opposition and the international community, who want all the pardons to be cancelled.
Among the 22 people whose pardons will no longer be valid are ex-prime minister and VMRO-DPMNE leader, Nikola Gruevski, former transport and interior ministers, Mile Janakieski and Gordana Jankulovska, former head of the secret police and Gruevski's cousin Saso Mijalkov, as well as the SDSM leader, Zoran Zaev.
Ivanov said when he announced the decision on April 12 that his goal was to end the political crisis in the country. But his move had quite the opposite effect, deepening the political turmoil in the country, which started last year after SDSM leader Zoran Zaev revealed wiretapped conversations that showed corruption at the highest level.
The latest move may allow the Special Prosecution office to continue probes into allegations of wrongdoing based on illegally wiretapped conversations which Zaev said he obtained from a whistleblower, while Gruevski says they were sent to Zaev by foreign intelligence services.
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