Zaev appears in front of Prosecutors for Election Fraud, asks for Govt Mandate
Friday, 17 March 2017

Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev appeared before a public prosecutor on Friday to answer about charges that his party was involved in irregularities in the 2016 elections. Zaev and several other SDSM officials are suspected of organizing vote buying in poor neighborhoods, often in exchange for cash or firewood.

"I was presented with the indications of abuse during the 2016 campaign. The next step comes on Wednesday, when the prosecutors will present the evidence, and we will be able to give our defense. We came here to prove our innocence. SDSM has published its election financial report and there was an audit which found no suspicions" said Zoran Zaev.

He added that the he sees the charges by the Public Prosecutor's Office (OJO) as a response by charges initiated by the Special Prosecutor's Office (SPO) against VMRO-DPMNE officials for election tampering. Both main parties accuse the two rival prosecutorial services of working in coordination with the opposing party.

Asked about the prospects of forming a new Government, Zaev said that he would like to have it done as soon as possible. "The first step is to hold a session of the Parliament, to elect a Speaker, and to call on President Ivanov to give the mandate. As a potential holder of the mandate, I will not allow to spend 20 days to negotiate a new Government. I guarantee that if I get the mandate, the deadlines for talks will be as short as possible", Zaev said. He asked President Gjorge Ivanov to give him the mandate, but he refused, citing Zaev's acceptance of the Tirana platform which the President sees as unconstitutional and an act of meddling of the Republic of Albania in Macedonian internal affairs. On Friday, SDSM initiated a session of the Parliament, in order to try and elect a new Speaker.

After the Democratic Union for Integration, one of Zaev's potential coalition partners, said that a session of the Parliament can be held only in coordination with the winning party VMRO-DPMNE, Zaev also conceded that consultations must be made. The parties need to agree on forming a Committee on Appointments, and Zaev said that it could be done at any moment.


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