Following a tense debate, the Macedonian Parliament failed on Sunday evening to hold the vote on whether to revoke the immunity of former Speaker Trajko Veljanoski. Veljanoski is the eight opposition member of Parliament who faces having his immunity revoked in an unprecedented assault on the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party.

The vote was held despite the fact that the Committee on mandates and immunity failed to make a recommendation to revoke his immunity. The Committee was evenly split 4 – 4, but the unconfirmed proposal was pushed before the full Parliament regardless. The deadline to revoke Veljanoski’s immunity expired on Sunday at midnight, as tensions rose between the ruling coalition and opposition members of Parliament.

Veljanoski is charged with “terrorism” – which the Zaev Government has turned into a catch all charge for opposition officials and activists – over the April 2017 incident in the Parliament when he was deposed. He was charged along with two former Government Ministers Mile Janakieski and Spiro Ristovski, who were detained on Wednesday and attacked the very next day during a prison yard walk by actual terrorists from the Albanian group which carried out the attack on the city of Kumanovo in May 2015 and killed eight Macedonian officers. Veljanoski faced being sent to the same prison, after a weekend in which group leaders were sending out public threats over their social media accounts to all VMRO officiails who would be sent to the prison they apparently control.

SDSM members of Parliament like Pavle Bogoevski and Muhamed Zekiri pushed hard to have Veljanoski’s immunity revoked. Opposition representatives like Nikola Micevski, Ilija Dimovski and Antonio Milososki pointed out that the split Committee did not approve of the proposal to revoke the immunity and therefore there is nothing to vote on. Ultimately former Albanian guerrilla commander Talat Xhaferi, who was appointed as Speaker in Veljanoski’s place, cut the session short several minutes after midnight.

Given the overall atmosphere of violations of the rule of law and Parliament procedures and the unprecedented number of opposition members of Parliament who face frivolous charges and had their immunity revoked, it is still possible that the proposal will be put to vote even after the three days deadline to revoke Veljanoski’s immunity expired on midnight.

While the debate was on-going, a pro-Government news site published a report that Veljanoski had his immunity revoked, which even included the number of votes “for” the proposal. This prompted a debate on social media over whether the story is fake or merely premature.