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Voters Head to Polls in Macedonia


In Macedonia, voting has wrapped up in important municipal elections seen as a test of the country's stability and its prospects of joining NATO and the European Union.

Zoran Tanevski, spokesman for the election commission, says there were no major incidents in the first three hours of voting.

"As far as I know, there are no serious problems in the elections," he said. "Only one voting station is not open because of snow. For the others, everything is OK."

Voters are electing municipal councils and mayors in 85 jurisdictions. The vote is being monitored by 350 international observers. In the case of the mayoral contests, there will a second round of voting in two weeks, if candidates fail to win a clear majority.

Analysts say a successful election will bolster Macedonia's chances of gaining entry into NATO and the European Union. Twenty-five percent of Macedonia's population is Albanian and this local election is a critical component of the power sharing deal that ended an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001.

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