Macedonia is not ready for fair elections on April 24, the EU and US said on Sunday, advising a postponement of the pre-term polls that are intended to end the country’s political crisis. US ambassador Jess Baily outlined the joint assessment in a letter delivered to the Macedonian interim Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev on Sunday evening, mentioning June 5 as a possible alternative election date. The letter says that although some progress has been made, “at this stage the necessary conditions for organizing credible elections on April 24 are not in place.” The joint assessment points out concerns regarding a credible clean-up of the electoral roll, including field checks, a still non-existent agreement on media reforms that would allow objective and unbiased reporting, as well as insufficient measures to separate state and political party activities. “We are also concerned at initial reports of pressure and intimidation of voters and others,” the letter says.
Urging all political players to stay committed to crisis accord brokered by the EU last summer, the assessment presented by the two ambassadors in front of the government building recommends holding elections at the next earliest possible date. “We understand that the party leaders have mentioned 5 June as a possible alternative. Serious efforts by all stakeholders are now required to ensure the conditions conducive to a credible electoral process in which all citizens and parties should freely participate,” it says.
The joint EU and US assessment is expected to influence the decision on whether to pursue an April 24 election date or postpone polls until all reform priorities envisaged in the EU-brokered crisis accord are met. However, the EU and US’s views are not binding on the Macedonian authorities.
Just hours before the ambassadors revealed their assessments, the leaders of the four main political parties were summoned to extraordinary talks, unofficially to discuss possible postponement of the elections to June 5. All attended except the recently resigned Prime Minister and VMRO DPMNE party leader Nikola Gruevski.