site.btaAfrim Gashi Elected Speaker of North Macedonia's New Parliament

Afrim Gashi Elected Speaker of North Macedonia's New Parliament
Afrim Gashi Elected Speaker of North Macedonia's New Parliament
Afrim Gashi (Photo: Alternativa)

Afrim Gashi was elected President of the Assembly of North Macedonia on Tuesday, the first day of the inaugural sitting of the country's new unicameral legislature after the parliamentary elections on May 8. Out of 116 MPs who registered for the sitting, 76 voted in favour of Gashi's bid for the post and 6 voted against.

The debate was marked by emotional statements by six MPs of The Left party and a few of VMRO-DPMNE. The SDSM stayed out of the discussion.

Gashi took the oath of office as President of the Assembly without avoiding using the country's constitutional name, the Republic of North Macedonia, which is noteworthy after North Macedonia's new president, Gordana Siljanovska, sparked an international controversy during her inauguration by referring to the country simply as Macedonia.

Gashi said in his inaugural address: "I will make sure that none of the MPs feels discriminated against. Let us show that we are the best image of our society, a North Macedonia in miniature. [...] The debate about the past is not the kind of discussion to be held by politicians, least so by MPs. The past is a fine topic for historians, but not for politicians. We are supposed to work for a better future and to talk about the future, not the past. Talking only about the past will not bring any benefit for our citizens. We should therefore unite around the common demands of the citizens. A European future, education reforms, protection of the family and the environment. We have common ground on many points, which is a good opportunity."

Gashi, who resigned as leader of the Alternativa party, a member of the VLEN coalition, was nominated for speaker of the 120-seat Assembly by 75 MPs of VLEN, VMRO-DPMNE and ZNAM, which are in the middle of negotiations on the country's future government.

In their statements, The Left MPs, who had stated before the parliamentary sitting that they would be a "destructive opposition", objected to Gashi's nomination by saying that Alternativa holds only two seats in the Assembly, that Gashi did not make a single statement as an MP in the previous legislature, and that he knew little about the high responsibility inherent in his intended position. According to The Left leader Dimitar Apasiev, what was going on in the parliament of North Macedonia was "a grand rehearsal for including the Bulgarians in the Constitution".

The inscription of the Bulgarians of North Macedonia into the country's Constitution is a requirement set in the framework for the EU accession negotiations with Skopje. The condition was laid down on Sofia's insistence as part of its efforts to resolve the bilateral disputes with its neighbour, related mainly to the rights of Bulgarians in North Macedonia, hate speech against Bulgaria, and what Sofia sees as misinterpretation of facts of the two countries' common history.

The inaugural sitting of North Macedonia's Assembly opened in the presence of the country's President Gordana Siljanovska and her predecessors Stevo Pendarovski, Gjorge Ivanov and Branko Crvenkovski, ex-president Boris Trajkovski's widow Vilma Trajkovska, representatives of state institutions and religious communities, and members of foreign diplomatic missions in North Macedonia.

The Your Macedonia coalition, dominated by VMRO-DPMNE, holds the most seats (58) in the new legislature. For a European Future, dominated by SDSM, and European Front, dominated by BDI, control 18 seats each, followed by VLEN (14), and The Left and ZNAM (6 each).

The four-year term of the Assembly begins from the inaugural sitting, and so does the 10-day timeframe in which President Siljanovska is expected to mandate a candidate of the majority-holding party or parties to form a government.

/RY/

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By 16:58 on 12.07.2024 Today`s news

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