Tuesday, July 11, 2006


kopje, 7 July (AKI) - Nikola Gruevski, Macedonia's youthful future prime minister and leader of the nationalist VMRO DPMNE party which swept to victory in Wednesday's general election, is counting on the support of ethnic Albanian parties in forming the new government, local media reported on Friday. Ethnic Albanians make about 25 per cent of Macedonia's two million population.

The VMRO DPMNE won 32.46 percent of votes cast, which gives it 44 seats in Macedonia's 120-seat parliament. The Social Democratic Alliance of current prime minister Vlado Buckovski got 32 seats (23.33 percent), the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration party 18 seats (12.33 percent), and the Democratic Party of Albanians with 11 deputies (7.5 percent). The remaining vote was distributed among minor Macedonian parties.

Partial results showed Gruevski's party winning 55 seats, which would permit him to form a government without ethnic Albanian backing. But the final results make this almost impossible. Gruevski, 36, is under strong international pressure to bring at least one or both ethnic Albanian parties into his cabinet to ensure a stable government, Skopje newspapers reported.

According to the daily Dnevnik, Gruevski said he would talk to the leaders of all parties entering parliament, except with Buckovski’s Social Democrats. "It's still too early to say who will join the government," said Gruevski. "Clearly, a coalition with an Albanian party is needed, but it is also clear that the government needs a third Macedonian partner," Gruevski stated.

He said he might include in the government even those parties with one or two deputies, adding that "not all combinations have yet been worked out." Ethnic Albanian parties, however, continued to dispute election results and to quarrel over who won most Albanian votes.

In the meantime, European Union officials called on Gruevski to carry on with the reforms Macedonia needed to implement to join the EU. It must also respect the 2001 Ohrid peace agreement which ended the ethnic Albanian rebellion, granting local Albanians broad autonomy. Macedonia is an official candidate for EU membership, but no precise entry date has yet been determined.

On Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, welcomed what he termed "the generally free and fair" election, conducted "in a clam and orderly manner, and largely in accordance with international standards."

"At the same time, I have noted the incidents of violence during the beginning of the campaign period and the irregularities reported on election day in a number of areas. All instances of fraud and electoral violence must be fully investigated," Solana stated.

Several people were beaten up and two wounded in incidents involving firearms during Macedonia's general election campaign. Most violent incidents during the campaign occurred between the two ethnic Albanian parties.

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