By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
The former Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski, said he plans to resign as its leader ‘soon’.
In an interview for Kurir news website, published on Friday, Nikola Gruevski said he plans to tender his resignation as leader of VMRO DPMNE soon, regardless of the outcome of ongoing party analysis about its defeat in the October local elections and earlier general election.
“Regardless of the outcome of the election analysis, even if it finds that objectively my responsibility for the defeat was small or non-existent, I will submit my resignation,” Gruevski said.
Gruevski, who faces criminal charges and investigations related to his party’s 11 years in power, as well as calls to step down from within his party, said that his resignation was “part of my basic principles and values”.
He added that he hopes that his resignation will help “to settle the overall political atmosphere”, within his party and in the country.
Asked when exactly he plans to resign, Gruevski said that this will happen soon, maybe even in a week or two, and that after the analysis is released, the party leadership should start procedures for electing a successor.
The long-standing party leader first hinted at the possibility of his resignation on October 15.
Following the crushing defeat his party suffered at the local eletions, whose outcome he did not initially recognize, citing alleged election fraud by the ruling Social Democrats, Gruevski then said that, despite that, as party leader he held ultimate responsibility.
Gruevski’s announced resignation comes days after the Organized Crime Prosecution on Tuesday said it suspected 36 people, including his former Interior Minister and six of his current MPs of having roles in the April 27 attack on parliament, which left some 100 people injured. They are accused of terrorism.
Gruevski’s party which was accused of large-scale illegal wiretapping and of other authoritarian and corrupt practices, was finally ousted from government in May, soon after the attack on parliament by VMRO DPMNE supporters brought the political crisis to its peak.
Regarding the recent arrests for terrorism of his party members, Gruevski maintained that what had happened in parliament was a spontaneous event and was not organized.
He said the prosecutions formed part of a politically motivated attack on his party which, as he said, remained the main defender of Macedonian national interests.
“One day, the SDSM [ruling Social Democrats] will regret what it is doing now, and the people will restore their country,” Gruevski said.
Gruevski has faced increased pressure to resign from within his own party’s ranks. Several groups and fractions have already called for deep party reforms, including his resignation.
The last such occasion was on Thursday when, after it convened, the association of VMRO DPMNE veterans accused Gruevski of marginalizing them and called on him to resign.