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Macedonians Vote Sunday in Referendum on Local Government Reorganization


Macedonian voters go to the polls Sunday in a referendum challenging legislation that will, in effect, expand the influence of the country's ethnic Albanian minority.

The government is urging citizens to stay at home to assure that turnout falls below 50 percent, making the vote invalid. The opposition-organized referendum seeks to overturn laws that redraw municipal boundaries and give ethnic Albanians more power in some towns and villages, where they make up at least 20 percent of the population.

Prime Minister Hari Kostov says he will resign if the vote succeeds in overturning the legislation, and thus hinders expansion of Macedonia's ties with the rest of Europe.

The bill implemented a key part of a 2001 accord that ended seven months of ethnic violence by ethnic Albanian gunmen.

Critics of the legislation say it divides the country along ethnic lines.

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