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Court-Ordered Macedonia Poll Re-runs Criticised

April 19, 2013

The now resigned head of the Macedonian Administrative Court has accused politicians of interfering in the court’s work over local election cases, adding that he wanted no part of it.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 17.04.2013

 

Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Judge Isamedin Limani tendered his resignation for moral reasons on Monday, minutes after his colleagues from the court controversially annulled election victories of the opposition candidate in Skopje and an ethnic Albanian candidate in Struga.

The decision annulled the victories of opposition candidate Andrej Zernovski in Skopje’s municipality of Centar and of Zijadin Sela in Struga. The court ordered reruns of local elections in the two municipalities, accepting nearly all the complaints filed by the ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

Judge Limani said he had earlier entertained reservations about the conduct of some of his fellow judges – but was only resigning now. “I am no politician,” he said.

“A breach of the executive power in the judicial system is obvious…  in the case of Centar and Struga,” a law professor at Skopje’s FON University, Bajram Polozani, told Radio Free Europe.

He argued that the decisions of the Administrative Court undermined the “dignity” and “consistency” of the legal syste, and the electoral law itself.

Meanwhile, the court’s decision to annul the vote in 29 polling stations in Centar has markedly shifted the situation in favour of ruling party candidate Vladimir Todorovic.

Vladimir Todorovic is now in the lead in Centar

Todorovic, who lost both the first and second rounds of the local elections to Zernovski, now enters the rerun with a 500-vote advantage.

The municipality of Centar, run over the past four years by Todorovic, is a key bastion of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

It also plays an important role in the distribution of money for the controversial government-sponsored revamp of the capital, Skopje 2014.

While Todorovic supports the government-led plan and has been receiving tens of millions of euros from the government to erect statues that form part of it, Zernovski is against it, accusing his opponents of money-laundering and pledging an investigation.

The voting in Centar was particularly controversial. During the second round on April 7, the opposition accused the government of trying to rig the outcome by busing in voters.

The allegations were reinforced by election monitors from two NGOs, Civil and MOST, which also reported cases of organized voting in Centar, especially in the afternoon.

The government and police denied claims of irregularities.

Instead, the ruling party has filed counter-complaints, insisting that the opposition obstructed the voting with its original complaints of irregularities.

In ethnically divided Struga, after taking the lead in the first round, the joint ethnic Macedonian candidate, supported by both VMRO DPMNE and the opposition Social Democrats, lost to Zijadin Sela, the joint ethnic Albanian candidate, in the second round.

However, it is very unlikely that Sela will lose his victory there for good, as he had a strong lead of some 5,000 votes, and the rerun concerns only about 6,000 Struga residents.

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