Macedonia’s opposition VMRO-DPMNE party is trying to block the work of the parliament by forming 10 parliamentary groups instead of the single group that is normal for a political party.
VMRO ruled Macedonia for over a decade, finally going into opposition at the end of May, when the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) formed a government. However, the SDSM and its allies have only a narrow majority, and VMRO was expected to do what it could to put pressure on the new government.
VMRO’s latest move is expected to result in lengthy debates, which can be prolonged by ten times as long as usual, as each group will be given time for its MPs to speak.
This will be the first time a party has formed more than one parliamentary group, even though the assembly’s rules of procedures allow for more.
"The news that VMRO-DPMNE will form ten parliamentary groups is nothing but a classical blockade of the work of the assembly, and thus the reform processes," a MP from the governing SDSM, Tomislav Tuntev, said in a party statement.
Tuntev also urged VMRO to abandon “such irresponsible plans” and stressed that the SDSM is determined to implement reforms required for it to progress towards EU and Nato membership.
The announcement that VMRO would form 10 parliamentary groups came as the parliament prepares to approve the dismissal of public prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski due to his unprofessional work. The SDSM has frequently criticised Zvrlevski, accusing him of being influenced by VMRO and working in the party’s interests.
The government decided to discharge Zvrlevski with the aim of enabling the cabinet to speed up the reform process, after he ignored a call from the new Prime Minister Zoran Zaev for his resignation. Zvrlevski’s six-year mandate was due to expire in 2019.
The fight against crime and corruption, and reforms to the judicial system are among the priorities of the new government. The international community expects the new government to undertake thorough reforms in the judiciary system, which is considered to be corrupt and politically influenced.
On July 5, Zaev unveiled details of the draft plan to implement urgent priority reforms needed for the tiny Balkan country to make further progress towards integration in the key international institutions.
The aim of the package is to convince EU members to set a date for Macedonia to start EU accession talks. The draft document is also expected to bring Macedonia closer to Nato.
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