|On 30 August 1999, the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the United Macedonian Organization "Ilinden" - PIRIN (a party for economic development and integration of the population) would be able to participate in the October local elections. Thus, the magistrates overruled the decision of the Central Commission for Local Elections who, a week earlier, had not registered the UMO "Ilinden" - PIRIN for the participation in the elections. At its meeting, Commission members failed to gain the majority of votes (14 out of 20) needed to register the party. The Supreme Administrative Court decision is final and cannot be appealed.
After being registered as a party by the Sofia City Court in the beginning of 1999, the country’s chief prosecutor threatened to challenge the party’s registration before the Supreme Court of Cassation, claiming that it violated the constitutional ban on separatist activities and several provisions of the act on the political parties. A prosecutor was quoted as saying that although the party statute does not explicitly state any separatist activities, this was evident from the context.
Later in March, a group of MPs petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the party’s registration. The motion was based on articles 11 and 44 of the constitution which prohibit the formation of parties on ethnic, racial and religious grounds, as well as activities against the country’s territorial integrity.
After the Supreme Administrative Court decision was announced, Krassimir Karakachanov - leader of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO), the ruling coalition’s nationalistic partner - called the registration "a dangerous precedent" and urged the Constitutional Court to make a pronouncement on the legitimacy of the UMO "Ilinden" PIRIN.
The Constitutional Court, on the other hand, announced that the case would be heard after the October elections, in order to rule out any dubious speculations.
Source: Desislava Simeonova, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC)
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