The Macedonian parliament elected an interim government on September 2, to prepare the ground for holding a free and fair snap general election in December.
The early election is seen as a way for the country to overcome the political crisis. On 31 August, Macedonia's four main political parties decided to hold a snap general election on December 11, finally agreeing that conditions for free and democratic vote were in place after months of wrangling.
Two of the new ministers - interior minister Oliver Spasovski and labour minister Frosina Remenski - are from the ranks of the main opposition party Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), state-run news agency MIA said. Spasovski and Remenski were also ministers in the previous interim government.
Oliver Andonov, who served as interior minister only for one day after Mitko Cavkov from the governing VMRO-DPMNE resigned on September 1 in line with the agreement on early elections, will be deputy minister of interior, while Dime Spasov, who served as labour minister until the appointment of Remenski, will be her deputy.
Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev said that the main aim of the new government is to organise free and democratic elections, which should put an end to the political crisis in the country. The election will take place 100 days after the appointment of the interim government.
Dimitriev added that implementation of EU/US supported election-related reforms are also an important issue.
“Let’s see the election finally happen,” Vlatko Gjorcev, a MP from VMRO-DPMNE was quoted in the statement.
Previously two dates were set for early elections, April 24 and June 5, but the vote was delayed at the request of the SDSM and the international community, which claimed that conditions for a free vote had not been met.
However, according to independent MP Roza Topuzovska Karevska, the conditions set by SDSM for a free and democratic vote still have not been met. These include conditions for a technical government, media reforms, clearing of the voters’ registry, clarification of the electoral code, fair representation of the opposition by the public broadcaster MTV and separation of the state from party influence.
Now all four of Macedonia’s main political parties - VMRO-DPMNE, its ethnic Albanian coalition partner the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the SDSM and the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) - have agreed on the election date.
“We call on all political parties to strictly observe a credible electoral process, to allow all citizens a free choice and, after the elections, to build a government that tackles crucial reforms and works for the interests of all citizens,” said European Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn in a joint statement on August 31.
“In the same vein, all political forces must urgently reenergise their efforts to implement the rest of the political agreement, including the urgent reform priorities.”
The crisis in Macedonia started in February 2015 when incriminating wiretapped conversations involving top officials were leaked by the SDSM. The Przino agreement signed later in 2015 appeared to resolve the crisis but rifts between government and opposition later reemerged.
The crisis deepened further in mid-April when President Gjorge Ivanov pardoned 56 people, including top politicians under criminal investigation, which sparked mass protests in the country. The pardons were later revoked, but protests continued until the new deal was reached in July.
SDSM has been in opposition since 2006, losing early elections in 2008, 2011 and 2014. It has repeatedly blamed the governing party for organising unfair elections.
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