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Country Report Macedonia

  • ID: 2123793
  • Country Profile
  • April 2016
  • Region: Macedonia
  • 28 Pages
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit
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On April 12th the president, Gjorge Ivanov, pardoned politicians and officials facing criminal investigation. Mr Ivanov stated that he was issuing the pardons to maintain political stability in the run-up to the pre-term parliamentary election on June 5th. The list of the 56 individuals who were pardoned includes the former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, and a number of prominent politicians from the ruling coalition and the main opposition party. Mr Ivanov's sudden decision caused public outrage, leading to street protests. EU and US diplomats have come out strongly against the decision, demanding that Mr Ivanov reverse it, which critics see as unconstitutional. We believe that it is now less likely that the parliamentary election will be held on June 5th, and that, if it is held, it will be boycotted by the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM)-the main opposition-and will be considered by opposition members and the international community as not meeting the standards to be considered free and fair.

Mr Ivanov's decision came after the Special Prosecutor's Office (SPO) started investigating high-ranking Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation-Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) officials for election rigging, illegal destruction of surveillance equipment and politically motivated abuse of individuals in police custody. From February to July 2015 the SDSM released wiretaps allegedly revealing the involvement of VMRO-DPMNE officials in rigging the 2014 parliamentary election. The SPO was established to investigate the wiretaps, as a result of the EU-mediated July 2015 Przino Agreement. In February 2016 the SPO accused several high-ranking officials, many of whom were VMRO-DPMNE members, of committing fraud in the 2013 local elections. The SPO has become a clear partisan issue. The VMRO-DPMNE portrays the SPO as corrupt and inept, whereas the SDSM claims that the SPO is being obstructed in its investigations of alleged VMRO-DPMNE wrongdoing.

Mr Ivanov's decision to pardon 56 individuals, many of whom are under criminal investigation by the SPO, undermines the SPO's role. However, on April 13th the special prosecutor, Katica Janeva, stated that the SPO's work had not ended and opened a new investigation into the mayor of Bitola for abuse of public funds.
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Country Report Macedonia

President pardons officials under criminal investigation
A wide range of pardoned individuals
Street protests continue
Condemnation from Western diplomats
Political polarisation and social unrest ahead
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