Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov reiterated on May 10 that Social Democratic leader Zoran Zaev should provide guarantees that he would preserve the unitary character of the country if he wants to be given a mandate to form a government. Ivanov made the statement after Macedonia’s newly elected parliament speaker sent a second letter to the president informing him about the new majority in the parliament.
Ivanov, who is close to the VMRO-DPMNE party which has ruled for the last decade, has so far refused to give a mandate to Zaev, who has the support of three ethnic Albanian parties to form a government. This plunged the country, which has been without a government since the December 11 snap election, into a deeper crisis.
Ivanov claims that Zaev’s support for the platform drawn up by the Albanian parties - the so called “Tirana platform” that seeks greater rights for ethnic Albanians - is dangerous for Macedonia and may lead to the federalisation of the country.
“President Ivanov remains on the position that neither the Tirana platform nor any other document or action that are contrary to the constitution can be used as a precondition or basis for forming a new government,” news agency MIA cited the president office’s statement.
“Ivanov expects Zaev to prove his public declarations that he “jointly with the coalition partners will strengthen the unitary character of the country and will act according to the constitution,” MIA cited the president cabinet’s statement.
The election of Talat Xhaferi from the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) as parliament speaker was officially published in the Official Gazette on May 9, after which Xhaferi sent a second letter to Ivanov about the new majority. The first letter was sent on May 3, before the publication of his election, and Ivanov did not react.
After Xhaferi's election a group of protesters forced their way into the parliament, and attacked several opposition MPs including Zaev.
The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) said on May 10 that Ivanov should award the mandate to the party's leader as soon as possible.
“Now there are no obstacles for giving a mandate,” the SDSM said in the statement.
The constitution gives Ivanov ten days after the official election of a new speaker to give a mandate to a party that has a majority in the parliament. Then the holder of the mandate has 20 days to propose members of the new cabinet.
However, now it is unclear from when the period of ten days is actually running, whether from May 3 when Xhaferi officially took up the office and sent his first letter to the president, or after the second letter, following the publication of his election in the Official Gazette.
Following the December 11 election, the mandate was firstly given to Nikola Gruevski, leader of the VMRO-DPMNE party, which narrowly won the election, but he failed to form a new government with the party’s old partner the DUI. VMRO-DPMNE has governed the country since 2006.
Broadcaster 24vesti reported that Ivanov will probably meet Zaev next week, but the information was not officially confirmed.
Meanwhile, the president of the World Macedonian Congress Todor Petrov filed an initiative with the Constitutional Court to decide on the constitutionality of Xhaferi’s election as speaker, broadcaster Telma reported on May 10.
However, court sources told Telma that the initiative will be probably rejected as the institution is not in charge of deciding on this issue.
Xhaferi, who is Macedonia’s first ethnic Albanian speaker, took up the position on May 3 after being temporarily prevented by lawmakers from VMRO-DPMNE. VMRO-DPMNE is trying to stop the SDSM from forming a government, and is pushing for new elections.
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