ISSN 2330-717X

Macedonia: Minister Accuses Election Head Of Bias

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By Sinisa jakov Marusic

Police Minister charges election commission head with political partiality, after he refused to consider a police letter detailing the crime records of various opposition poll monitors.

Police Minister Gordana Jankulovska has accused the head of the election commission of playing “the role of a political party advocate”, after Boris Kondarko refused to consider an official police letter noting the criminal records of 30 opposition election day monitors.

Macedonia
Macedonia

Kondarko questioned the impartiality of the police information, as Jankulovska is a high-ranking member of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party and is one of its main candidates seeking a seat in parliament in the forthcoming June 5 general election.

Law experts say the degree of political friction around the body tasked with carrying out the election is already alarming, and could jeopardize the credibility of the whole election process.

The members of the commission are nominees of different political parties while the head traditionally comes from the ranks of the opposition.

The dispute over the police letter was only the latest row linked with the commission in the past week.

At the weekend, the members of the commission failed to agree on whether to consider another initiative, this time concerning an alleged government-backed election fraud scheme.

The pro-opposition A1 TV station earlier this month presented written documents and audio recordings to the commission, apparently incriminating the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party of bullying civil servants into providing it with lists of guaranteed voters.

This time, the VMRO-DPMNE members of the commission opted to reject a probe, while Kondarko said they should have checked the TV station’s claims. After a fierce discussion, three members from the ruling party left the session of the commission in protest.

“The commission is in obvious crisis [but it] must consolidate and eliminate political pressures,” the constitutional law professor, Osman Kadriu, said.

Kadriu said that he feared the commission might not be able to conduct the election at all if this kind of political friction continued.

But there is no obvious way out of the logjam on the commission.

“Parliament is currently dissolved and there is no one to replace the commission members,” noted Tanja Karakamiseva, a professor of politics and former member of the commission.

She said the country’s democratic image would suffer badly, if the commission visibly failed to withstand outside pressures.

Some 1.8 million Macedonians are to elect 123 legislators on June 5. The early elections come after months of political gridlock caused by an opposition boycott of the parliament.

Various opinion polls give an advantage to the current Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, leader of VMRO-DPMNE, who has been in power since 2006.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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