30.04.2014 Transparency International – Macedonia said it was filing criminal charges against the ruling VMRO DPMNE party and its junior government partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.
“The charges are for illegal payment of expenditures for the election campaign, such as paying in cash, and for using municipal and public enterprises funds for political party purposes,” the head of Transparency, Slagjana Taseva, said.
At a press conference in Skopje, the Macedonian branch of Transparency International presented cash receipts as evidence that the ruling VMRO DPMNE party on March 26 paid a local public enterprise in the town of Prilep in cash to set up a stage for a party rally.
Macedonia held general and presidential elections on Sunday.
Transparency said it had obtained the receipts from the public enterprise through a public information access request. The enterprise handed over the receipts to show that it did not erect the stage for free.
Transparency said it was suing the party for breaking article 71 of the electoral law that prohibits parties from making cash payments during elections.
The law obliges all parties to open separate bank accounts that are be used solely for payments related to the election campaign.
In another case, Transparency said it would sue the ethnic Albanian DUI party for misusing public funds for party purposes during last year’s local elections.
Taseva presented documents from the municipality of Studenicani that she said show that, in February 2013, the municipality paid for the procurement of computers “under the order of Artan Grubi from the DUI”, who is chef de cabinet for the DUI head, Ali Ahmeti.
In addition, Transparency also presented an email in which Grubi allegedly told the municipality to pay for the equipment.
“I am sending you two invoices as attachment. Please make the municipality cover the expenses. Each municipality has helped with the same amount, by providing big flags, a computer, large screen TV for a press conference, stages, microphones, audio mixing device etc.” the alleged email from Grubi reads.
Grubi has denied putting any pressure on ethnic Albanian-dominated municipalities during the elections.
He told NOVA TV that the money was used for a traditional Albanian hat celebration that had nothing to do with the elections.
Taseva said the cases show that “Macedonia still lacks solid mechanisms for monitoring and protection against these kinds of misuses, which are hampering the democratic development of the country because we cannot speak of fair and equal conditions for all political players in the election campaign”.
Similar remarks came on Monday from the head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, Geert Ahrens.
Asked about the OSCE’s evaluation that the political playing field was uneven in Macedonia, and that this was a key problem in elections, Ahrens said the financing of party political campaigns “remains quite non-transparent” and that precise mechanisms for following the money are not in place.
Source : http://www.balkaninsight.com