Skopje: Prime Minister Zaev fields joint presidential candidate with Albanian party

Ali Ahmeti, leader of the ethnic Albanian political party Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) declared to press on Thursday that he concluded a political agreement with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. The political agreement envisages the fielding of a common, consensually-agreed nominee to compete for the presidential position on the forthcoming elections between DUI and Prime Minister’s Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party. Presidential elections will be held at Skopje on 5 April 2019. Currently, there are at least four known candidates for the position. The DUI leader acknowledged that the suitable candidate will be publicly announced on Friday.

The joint agreement comes at a time when the SDSM party looks for allies in North Macedonia’s political setting. Meanwhile, the DUI party leader has publicly proclaimed that presidential candidates have also to be endorsed by the Albanian minority representatives . The joint agreement, which has not leaked to press, probably envisages the candidacy of an ethnic North Macedonian citizen approved by the Albanian minority, or a citizen with Albanian ties. The possibility of an outright candidacy of an ethnic Albanian appears to be so far the least probable scenario.

So far, the leading representatives in the candidacy race are the head of SDSM party and Minister of Defence, Radmila Sekerinska and Oliver Spasovski, Interior Minister and also member of the SDSM party. Additional candidacies entail the names of Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and the former candidate for the same position in April 2014 Presidential elections, Stevo Pendarovski. Interestingly, the joint fielding of a presidential candidate between SDSM and DUI parties comes at a time when both parties disputed for the failed arrest warrant against former Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski. The picked candidate from the SDSM-DUI coalition will rival the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE representative, university professor Gordana Siljanovska.

In the coming days, the SDSM-DUI coalition will discuss with proposal for a joint presidential candidate with the four Albanian parties of the North Macedonian parliament, two of whom already belong in the government coalition of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. Still, the two non-coalition partners, the BESA Movement and Alliance of Albanians (AA), appear to have fielded their own ethnic Albania candidate to run for the presidential position.

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