Despite the narrowly divided vote in the Parliament Committee on mandates and immunity, which did not accept the request to revoke the immunity of former Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski, the Parliament is still going ahead with the vote this evening.

Speaker Talat Xhaferi, who ousted Veljanoski during the April 2017 incident in the Parliament and enabled the creation of the SDSM-DUI coalition Government, called for a late evening session. Veljanoski stands to be the eight opposition member of Parliament, from VMRO-DPMNE and allied parties, to have his immunity revoked. It’s an unprecedented number of representatives who face criminal prosecution. Veljanoski is charged over his alleged involvement in the incident. The SDSM-DUI Government has used this broadly defined court case to target VMRO members of Parliament and pressure them to vote in favor of renaming Macedonia into North Macedonia. Even after the amendments on the new name were pushed through Parliament, arrests of opposition officials continue.

Veljanoski was charged along with two former Government Ministers, Mile Janakieski and Spiro Ristovski. Both were arrested on Wednesday, and on Thursday they faced a brutal attack in the Shutka prison perpetrated by two members of the Albanian terrorist group which carried out the 2015 attack on the city of Kumanovo which left eight Macedonian officers dead.

After the attack, group members have made it clear that they run the prison and that the SDSM-DUI Government can’t rein them in, and they issued death threats at all VMRO officials who will be sent there.