Macedonian president withdraws pardons for 22 politicians including former PM Gruevski

Macedonian president withdraws pardons for 22 politicians including former PM Gruevski
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje May 29, 2016

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov scrapped pardons for 22 “politically exposed persons” including ex-prime minister and leader of the governing VMRO-DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski, on April 27, following domestic and international pressure.

Many Macedonians were angered when Ivanov pardoned 56 people, including top politicians mostly from conservative VMRO-DPMNE, on April 12. The decision sparked mass protests in the country as well as disapproval by the EU and US. However, the public, the opposition parties and the international community have also criticised Ivanov’s latest move, saying the revocation should apply to all those pardoned.

"No politician is above the law. Each will be held responsible for his actions," Ivanov said in his address to the public published on the presidential office's website on May 27.

Among the 22 people whose pardons will no longer be valid are 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 leader of main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) Zoran Zaev, Nova TV reported after the names were published on May 28 in the Official Gazette.

Gruevski resigned early this year as part of the Przino agreement reached in July 2015 for overcoming the political crisis.

Others on the list of 22 politicians are parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski, Bitola mayor Vladimir Talevski, both from VMRO-DPMNE, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) Menduh Thaci, and ex-president Branko Crvenkovski from the ranks of the SDSM.

The president did not reveal any names when he announced the decision on May 27.

The president’s latest move took place a week after the parliament made changes to the law that enabled him to revoke pardons selectively, for those who asked for their pardons to be withdrawn. However, the president said, he had retracted the pardons although he had not received any requests from politicians.

Ivanov also said that other people who did not want to be pardoned should submit a request to his office.

“I still believe that the decision to pardon was the best way for overcoming the crisis,” Ivanov added.

The latest move may allow the Special Prosecution office to continue probes into allegation of wrongdoing based on illegally wiretapped conversations between senior officials that were released by Zaev’s SDSM in 2015.

The crisis in the country actually started with the release of the recorded tapes that revealed criminal activities by top politicians.

The partial withdrawal of pardons was not accepted by public or the international community.

Following Ivanov’s latest decision, the SDSM said that the abolition should be revoked for all pardons, not partially. On the other hand, VMRO-DPMNE welcomed the decision.

Protests dubbed the Colourful Revolution continued in Skopje, with protestors seeking resignation of the government, pardons to be revoked entirely, the restoration of democracy and conditions for free and credible elections in the country.

Early general elections were first set for April 24 and then for June 5 but were postponed again due to the lack of proper conditions.

Macedonia is under strong pressure from the EU and US to create adequate conditions for free elections and to implement the Przino agreement, which requires the president to scrap pardons entirely and enable special prosecutors to continue their investigations.

 

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