Following the latest round of arrests of opposition officials, VMRO-DPMNE said that it is withdrawing from an EU led process to reach consensus on systemic reform laws and demands that a new Public Prosecutor – nominated by the opposition – is appointed.

In a matter of only a few months, the Parliament is pushing seven procedures to remove immunity from members of Parliament, and now another one is being announced. All the targeted members of Parliament come from the ranks of the opposition. There is no other way to see this except as political confrontation with the opposition, said Nikola Micevski, head of the VMRO-DPMNE group in Parliament.

The arrest of former Parliament Speakter Trajko Veljanoski and two former ministers – Mile Janakieski and Spiro Ristovski, marks the latest instance when VMRO-DPMNE officials have been arrested. Opposition members of Parliament were especially targeted in the run up to the vote to rename Macedonia, when nine of them in total were pressured to vote in favor of the new name with the threat of lengthy prison sentences for “terrorism” or abuse of office. And after the constitutional amendments were rammed through Parliament, the arrests continue – aimed against VMRO-DPMNE and the small opposition Socialist Party whose leader owns the best watched TV station in Macedonia – it was the target of politically motivated arrests on February 1st. This is now followed up by the arrest of Veljanoski, Janakieski and Ristovski, and a new round of charges against former VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski, who is in exile in Hungary.

The intent of these arrests, so close before the presidential elections, is clear. The goal is not to achieve justice, but to attack the opposition. The ruling parties know they are losing, their public support is collapsing and this is the only way for them to cover up their crime and corruption. This is a panicked move, this is a move driven by fear of defeat, Micevski said.

VMRO-DPMNE was asked by a group of members of the European Parliament to participate in meetings where the party would be consulted on proposed reforms laws in the area of the judiciary, the media and elsewhere. Micevski said that the party is withdrawing from the process in light of the arrest of Veljanoski, Janakieski and Ristovski.

If they really want a country based on the rule of law, it is our request that a new Public Prosecutor is named, and that he is nominated by the opposition. This was, after all, a position which the ruling parties themselves held. We demand a Public Prosecutor who will really fight crime and injustice. The actions of the Government directly threaten the legitimacy of the elections, this is a direct attempt to undermine the pre-election process. It is clear that these three are victims of the institutions which are under Zoran Zaev’s command, victims of his ruthless ambition for political revenge, said Micevski.