The former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia is holding a re-run of voting
in dozens of ethnic-Albanian areas where the June 1 election was
marred by fraud, intimidation and violence that killed at least one
person. Stefan Bos reports for VOA from Budapest that the European
Union is closely monitoring the ballot after warning that more violence
could delay Macedonia's bid for membership of the organization.
Amid tight security, about 10 percent of Macedonia's population of
two million people could vote again Sunday. Most voting took place in
mainly ethnic Albanian areas where two rival parties are vying for
control across the north and west of the country.
re-run came after the June 1 ballot was overshadowed by what election
observers described as vote rigging and some of the worst clashes in
Macedonia since fighting broke out between government and
ethnic-Albanian forces in 2001.
In the most serious incident,
one person was killed and several others wounded in a vote-related gun
battle at the village of Aracinovo, just north of the capital Skopje.
observer Serhiy Holovaty of the Council of Europe also complained about
alleged attempts to manipulate the outcome of the previous round of
voting in some areas of the country.
have noticed the possibility for manipulation with the results. These
are possibilities. [For instance] there are two ballot boxes that have
not been sealed at all," said Holovaty.
observers have linked most of the troubles to two ethnic-Albanian
parties - the Democratic Union for Integration and the Democratic Party
Sunday's ballot is not expected to change the
outcome of the results that gave conservative Prime Minister Nikola
Gruevski the largest parliamentary majority in more than a decade. He
gained popularity in April after Greece blocked an invitation for
Macedonia to join NATO in a dispute over the country's name.
say Sunday's vote could decide which of the two main Albanian parties
claims first place among the former Yugoslav republic's 500,000 Albanians.
Mr. Gruevski has been under pressure to cooperate
with at least one of the parties, to ease ethnic tensions in the young
Balkan nation. But he has warned his conservative party will not form
a coalition with an ethnic-Albanian party if they will be linked to
more election violence, which could undermine Macedonia's efforts to
join the European Union.