Macedonia needs true democratic reforms

Recommendations of CIVIL – Center for Freedom on immediate measures to be taken to solve the political crisis and restore democracy in the Republic of Macedonia

The Republic of Macedonia needs true and thorough democratic reforms. CIVIL – Center for Freedom has joined the Citizens for Macedonia coalition and fully supports the demands and conditions already presented to the public, to the government and to the international community. That includes the demand for resignation of the Government, revision of the Voters Register, elimination of the party influence over the Macedonian Radio and Television (the public broadcaster), and organizing free and democratic elections. The current leading party VMRO DPMNE and its leader Gruevski should not be allowed to organize elections, in light of the electoral frauds conducted in the last years of their rule.

We strongly believe that the timeframe given to the process to prepare early parliamentary elections in April 2016 is too short. We strongly recommend an extension of this period to 18 months or more, in order to prepare the necessary conditions for free elections. More precisely, we recommend that this period needs to be considered from the day of the formation of the transitional government on.

Previously, the civil society organizations of the Coalition have addressed high representatives of the foreign diplomacy with several proposals, amongst which is the demand to be included in the negotiations process (LINK or www.gragjanite.mk)

CIVIL – Center for Freedom, having the experience with the long-term observation and analysis of the elections and of the human rights situation in the country, as well as analysis of the electoral system in the country, offers its expertise and assistance in the process of restauration of democracy in the country. Here, we present, in short, the priority measures that need to be taken into consideration:

  1. Re-composition of the State Election Commission

This measure is essential in order to free this body from the influence of any political party. This body should be composed of experts, representatives of the civil society and foreign experts and envoys.

The revision of the Voters Register has to be conducted by independent body, composed of civil society and experts, national and international.

  1. Electoral system reforms

These reforms include a number of changes such as: Macedonia as one electoral district, open lists, measures to prevent electoral fraud, etc. according to an elaborated set of proposals by CIVIL – Center for Freedom in cooperation with experienced organizations in the country and abroad.

  1. Substantial reforms within the media regulation sphere

This requires re-composition of the Agency for audio and audiovisual media services (formerly Broadcasting Council) and the Electronic Communications Agency, in order to obtain at least a minimum of freedom of expression and conditions for existence of free and independent media.

  1. Formation of a special commission to investigate the security crisis in Kumanovo on May 9 and 10

There are serious allegations of an involvement of government officials in the whole issue, with highly corruptive elements which have led to the crisis and could have grave security consequences.

  1. Formation of a special commission to investigate the allegations that derive from the wiretapped conversations revealed by the opposition

According to the allegations, over 20,000 people in the country of two million had been wiretapped in a massive eavesdropping operation orchestrated by PM Nikola Gruevski and the chief of the State Security Service Saso Mijalkov. These conversations reveal a massive abuse of power, electoral fraud and another long list of transgressions by the highest government officials.

Furthermore, we propose opening of an international, independent investigation of the allegations of enormous abuse of public funds and their channeling outside the country.

   6. Urgent measures towards reforms in the judiciary and public prosecutor’s office

Demands for the resignation of the Public Prosecutor is an obvious measure. Moreover, urgent measures have to be taken in order to reform the judiciary and the public prosecutor’s office. This means that we need to establish a body – a special council of judges, international legal experts, and civil society representatives – that will have a mandate to monitor and to veto decisions and court rulings. This should serve as basis for thorough reforms of the judiciary system in the country in the near future.

As part of the interventions within the judiciary, we need to see an immediate end of politically motivated lawsuits against opposition, human rights activists and journalists and release of existing political prisoners.

Since 2010, CIVIL – Center for Freedom publicly demands an end of political prosecution.

In that respect, once again, we state:

The political prisoners are not the only feature of the politicized judiciary, but certainly represent one of the most visible illustrations of the situation of the justice institutions. In such conditions, it is difficult to imagine free and fair elections.

We demand an immediate end to politically motivated lawsuits against opposition.

We demand an immediate release of existing political prisoners and detainees, particularly those arrested from the protests from May 5th on.

  1. Early parliamentary, presidential and local elections

Finally, CIVIL – Center for Freedom reiterates the demands for early local and presidential elections in 2016, at the same time as the early parliamentary elections.

This statement is based on long-term observation of our organization and the conclusions brought in the elections reports in 2013 and 2014, as well as other reports, analysis and public demands by CIVIL and other relevant organizations and institutions at national and international level. See: Electoral processes in 2013 and 2014 are illegitimate from April 30, 2015.

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