Nine indicted over Macedonia parliament violence

Nine indicted over Macedonia parliament violence
By bne IntelliNews May 8, 2017

Macedonia’s public prosecution office has filed indictments against nine people involved in the violence in the parliament at the end of April, following the election of speaker Talat Xhaferi. If found guilty, those indicted could face prison terms of between three months and three years. 

On April 27 when a group of demonstrators stormed the Macedonian parliament and attacked opposition lawmakers after the election of Xhaferi, Macedonia’s first ethnic Albanian speaker. Over 100 people were injured in the violence including the leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party, Zoran Zaev, who is trying to form a new government in a coalition with ethnic Albanian parties.

“The suspects are accused of participating in a mob and preventing officials from performing their official duty,” the prosecution office said in a statement on May 8.

Currently only two of the indicted remained in detention, two are under house arrest and five have been given a caution.

The SDSM claims the violent incidents were caused by people close to the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party.

VMRO-DPMNE denied it had any role in the incident. However, it insists that the election of Talat Xhaferi as a new speaker was not legal since it was not carried out in line with official protocol.

The parliament was unable to follow the usual protocol since VMRO-DPMNE occupied the speaker’s chair during the vote, singing the national anthem. 

According to A1on, Xhaferi’s election as speaker is expected to be published in the Official Gazette on May 9, despite speculation that the official announcement would be obstructed.

Meanwhile, the civil association For United Macedonia held its 71st protest in Skopje on May 8 against the so-called Tirana platform, a post-election document composed by three ethnic Albanian parties, which seek greater rights for the minority. Protestors also want a new general election.

VMRO-DPMNE and many Macedonians consider the ethnic Albanian parties’ demands are dangerous for the unitary character of the country. This was the reason given by President Gjorge Ivanov - who is close to VMRO-DPMNE - for refusing to give a mandate to Zaev to form a new government.

Even though VMRO-DPMNE emerged as the winner in the December election with two more seats than SDSM, it failed to form a government with its former partner, ethnic Albania’s Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).

DUI, which is the biggest ethnic Albanian party, now is expected to form a government with SDSM and two other ethnic Albanian parties. The four parties have a majority of 67 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

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