North Macedonia Parties Battle Over Former Speaker’s Fate

Macedonia's ruling coalition has been hit by a bitter dispute between coalition partners over the fate of the former speaker.

On Monday, the main ruling Social Democratic Party, SDSM, accused parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi - who comes from the ranks of the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI - of conspiring with the opposition to save his predecessor from detention and prosecution.

Xhaferi responded that he would not succumb to SDSM pressures.

Xhaferi on Sunday night outraged the Social Democrats when he abruptly ended a parliamentary session at which MPs were due to strip former speaker Trajko Veljanoski of his immunity.

He denied any conspiracy and quoted procedural reasons. At a press conference, he said he ended the plenary session without a vote because on Friday the parliamentary commission in charge of MPs' immunity had failed to "submit any draft conclusion, and as such, there was nothing to decide" concerning Veljanoski's immunity.

Last week, the country's Prosecution for Organized Crime said it suspected Veljanovski - who was speaker from 2008 to 2017 from the ranks of the now opposition VMRO DPMNE party - had played a role in the April 2017 mob attack on parliament.

A pro-VMRO DPMNE mob broke into the parliament and caused mayhem partly to stop the now ruling parties from electing Xhaferi as speaker.

Xhaferi's election was the next step towards the formation of a new Social Democrat-led government, marking the end of VMRO DPMNE's 11 years in power.

About 100 people, including journalists and MPs, as well as current Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, were injured in the violence.

Prosecutor Vilma Ruskovska has demanded detention for Veljanoski due to the risk of his escape, or influencing witnesses. But...

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