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Macedonia Elects New Top Judges

April 30, 2012

The Macedonian Parliament on Monday is expected to confirm the election of three new judges to the Constitutional Court, whose candidacy has been harshly contested by the opposition.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 30.04.2012
Skopje | Photo by: Balkan Insight

After a heated debate last week the ruling parties should give green light for Elena Goseva, Nikola Ivanovski and Sali Murati. The stable majority should make the voting a mere formality.

The three new judges, championed by the centre-right VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, will take office on June 1, when the nine-year mandate of the current judges, Liljana Inglizova- Ristova, Igor Spirovski and Zoran Sulejmanov, expires.

However, the opposition Social Democrats see the appointments as the government’s attempt to assume control over the court.

“You are attempting a ‘Gruevisation’ of the Constitutional Court” said Jani Makraduli, a legislator from the Social Democrats, at last week’s parliamentary session.

With the election of the news judges, the court, comprised of nine members, will have five judges elected by the VMRO DPMNE majority in parliament and four from the time the Social Democrats were in power.

But in a couple of months the parliament will have the opportunity to elect two more judges, when the mandate of the existing ones expires.

The opposition holds against Gosheva the fact that she is the mother of Slobodanka Gosheva, former head of the national census commission. They also say Gosheva is already a retired prosecutor, which is not in accordance with the law.

The objections against Nikola Ivanovski, former judge at the lower instance court, centre on the fact that he previously failed to be re-elected by the judicial council, which complained of poor work.

The Social Democrats link Murati to a small Turkish party that is part of the ruling coalition.

The government, meanwhile, stands by its nominations.

“The new judges will mark the end of the era in which the court has been annulling the reform laws proposed by the government of VMRO DPMNE,” said Aleksandar Nikolovski, a legislator from the ruling party.

On several occasions in the past, Prime Minister Gruevski  accused the Constitutional Court judges of being “controlled by the opposition”, saying this was the reason they overturned the laws proposed by the government.

The latest instance was in March, when the Constitutional Court narrowed the scope of the controversial Lustration Law, which aims to purge former police informants from public offices.

Next on the agenda of the court are two more hot issues.

First the court has to decide on the legality of last year’s parliament decision of annulling four war crime cases concerning atrocities allegedly committed by former ethnic Albanian rebels during the 2001 armed conflict.

The court also has to tackle the new education law.  Many professors complain that the law has curtailed the independence of universities by putting the government in charge of the re-election of staff and distribution of funds.

It is uncertain whether the court will discuss these issues in May or after the new batch of judges assume their seats.

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