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Macedonia Parliament Suspends Peace Plan Debate - 2001-09-01


Macedonia's parliament has suspended debate on a peace plan, citing security conditions in rebel-held areas. The unexpected move comes after Macedonians and ethnic Albanians set up separate roadblocks near the city of Tetovo.

Macedonia's parliament speaker says consideration of a peace accord will not continue until security conditions in the country improve. He said Macedonians displaced from rebel-held areas must be allowed to return to their homes free of harassment from ethnic Albanian militants.

Legislators on Saturday had been expected to continue debating a package of reforms intended to grant greater rights to Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority. President Boris Trajkovski called on parliament to support the plan Friday, saying it is the only way to avoid an all-out war.

A NATO mission to disarm the rebels cannot continue until parliament approves a procedural measure on the series of constitutional amendments.

The trouble began Friday evening when Albanian civilians blocked the return of a convoy of Macedonians to the village of Vratnica, near Tetovo. The protesters are demanding the release of Albanians held in government jails and an end to what they call police brutality.

About 150 ethnic Macedonians are reported trapped by the roadblock.

Macedonian civilians in Tetovo retaliated by blocking roads leading into the city from Albanian villages. They too are demanding the release of people they say are being held by the insurgents.

Fifteen people taken hostage by the rebels have been released in the past week.

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