Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Albanians in Macedonia Protest New Government

Thousands of ethnic Albanians protested in front of the Macedonian parliament building in Skopje on Friday 25 August as legislators gathered to vote in the new government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE won 5 July parliamentary elections and has proposed the formation of a coalition government with the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) and several minor parties. But as the parliamentary session started, thousands of sympathizers of another ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union of Integrations (DUI), protested at being left out of the government.

Ethnic Albanians make about 25 per cent of Macedonia’s two million population and DUI won 17 parliamentary seats thanks to ethnic Albanian voters. But Gruevski decided to form a coalition with DPA, which won only 11 seats, drawing protests that he was ignoring the will of ethnic Albanians. Some ethnic Albanian intellectuals even wrote to United States Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, asking her to intervene.
Local media reported that parliament building was cordoned off by security police but there were no incidents. The vote on the new government is expected to take place late tonight.

Gruevski told parliament that his priority will be the improvement inter-ethnic relations, development of democracy, rooting out crime and poverty and improving the dire economic situation. On the international scale, Gruevski predicted Macedonia would become a member of NATO in 2008, and next year will become an official candidate to join the European Union.

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