Saturday, July 29, 2006

Official: New Macedonian Government to Exclude Ahmeti’s DUI

Following a final day of negotiations between VMRO-DPMNE and the Albanian DUI, Skopje media confirmed today that the latter party will not be in the new government, despite the fact that it had won a majority of votes in the Albanian community.

It was not immediately clear as to whether some other future deal or promise had been made between the presidents of VMRO (Nikola Gruevski) and DUI (Ali Ahmeti). According to A1 TV, DUI officials Musa Xhaferi and Teuta Arifi slunk out of parliament without a word, leaving it unclear as to what had transpired within.

However, despite the dire warnings of DUI’s belated coalition partner, SDSM, that the country was headed for institutional crisis because of the failure to appoint a parliamentary speaker two days earlier at the first parliamentary session, no crisis was to be seen in President Branko Crvenkovski’s affable welcome to Gruevski and his partners. The president gave Gruevski the customary twenty days to form a government, though it will probably be completed in less.

Confirming that DUI would not be in the government, Gruevski held out the possibility that a smaller Albanian party, PDP, could enter- even though it had campaigned together with DUI before the July 5 vote.

The demagogue Ahmeti, still more famous for starting the 2001 war than for anything he has done since, has intimated that there may be trouble for the country on account of his party’s exclusion. The threat of “grave consequences” for “interethnic relations” infuriated the Macedonian public and VMRO-DPMNE, who interpreted it as petty racketeering from a known thug. Even the international diplomats told Ahmeti to knock it off, and his open letter to NATO, the US and EU did not have the desired effect.

Skopje newspaper Vreme reported a few days ago that some of the party’s ex-militant leaders want to start a new armed campaign. However, this would alienate a party which claims to be mainstream and progressive from the West. Still, if further violence ensues, it will most likely be between the Albanian parties.

In the general elections, VMRO-DPMNE won 45 parliamentary seats (one came at the expense of DUI after a partial revote). It will form the new government with Arben Xhaferi’s Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), the New Social Democratic Party of SDSM defector Tito Petkovski, the small Democratic Development of Macedonia (DOM) of Liljana Popovska, and Fiat Asanoski’s Party for European Integration (PEI), targeted towards Macedonian Muslims in Macedonia’s southwest.

According to Gruevski’s programme, the new government will focus on economic issues, probably by increasing state investment, lowering taxes and perhaps freeing the pegged denar-euro exchange rate.

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