Macedonia Opposition Party Purges High-Profile Members

At an extraordinary session of its central committee on Monday night, VMRO DPMNE purged several high-profile members, requested resignations from renegade MPs who supported the 'name' agreement with Greece at last week's parliamentary vote and threatened to oust other MPs if they support the agreement in the future.

After the meeting, one of the party's vice-presidents, Aleksandar Nikoloski, insisted that the purges, which effectively strengthen the position of party leader Hristijan Mickoski, were part of a much needed "catharsis" that would bring the party back to its roots.

Nikoloski said the former ruling party, in opposition since last year, would now move forward strongly after being "reformed and unified".

The expulsions followed Friday's parliamentary vote at which seven VMRO DPMNE MPs defied the party line and voted with the government for constitutional changes which would allow the country's name to be altered to implement the agreement with Greece.

The highest-ranking figure to be dismissed was one of the party's vice-presidents, Mitko Jancev.

Jancev was dismissed for "acting against VMRO DPMNE's and Macedonia's interests, due to strong cooperation with [Prime Minister] Zoran Zaev, as well as for organising a group to pressurise, blackmail, threaten and bribe VMRO DPMNE legislators so that they vote for the constitutional changes, using the lowest of methods", Nikoloski said.

Jancev was seen as one of the most respected and promising VMRO DPMNE members. During last year's local elections, he became mayor of the town of Kavadarci, one of the last remaining VMRO DPMNE strongholds in the country.

During the September 30 name referendum, he confronted the VMRO DPMNE leader, insisting that the...

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