Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Macedonia gets new government, DUI uses militant rhetoric

Macedonian lawmakers approved the composition of the new government around midnight on Saturday (26 August). It consists of the VMRO-DPMNE, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), the New Social Democrats and a few small parties with one or two MPs.

What has attracted the most attention is the exclusion of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the ethnic Albanian party that won more seats in parliament than the DPA. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski negotiated with DUI representatives for a few days but to no avail.

Gruevksi has denied DUI accusations that the party's exclusion violates the Ohrid Framework Agreement, arguing that obligations under the accord have been met by including the DPA. The US and EU ambassadors, meanwhile, called on DUI to be a constructive opposition. President Branko Crvenkovski voiced a similar view.

In the past weeks, DUI staged protests and blocked roads when it became clear that Gruevski was forming the government without the party, which is led by Ali Ahmeti.

The issue moved to the front burner late last week. While parliament met to approve the new government, DUI organised mass rallies. While Gruevski was presenting his plans to parliament, Ahmeti addressed protesters with militant statements.

"Gruevski will have a problem because he does not respect the will of the Albanians and because he humiliates them. We are the masters of our future and not the tenants in this country. I have already said that if we are not in the government, he will have to deal with us," Ahmeti told the few thousand protestors, according to Dnevnik and Utrinski Vesnik.

Ahmeti explicitly said he did not recognise the new cabinet. MPs for DUI and its coalition partner, PDP, did not attend the session in which lawmakers approved it.

Criticising the boycott, DPA Vice President Menduh Taci said Ahmeti's party did not have the courage to come to the parliament and exchange arguments there.

SDSM leader and outgoing Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski and outgoing Finance Minister Nikola Popovski, meanwhile, have expressed worry over DUI's absence from the government. Buckovski warned Gruevski to be especially watchful over security and good interethnic relations, the basis of stability in Macedonia and the precondition for economic stabilisation.

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