Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Macedonia's opposition social democrats elect new leader

Macedonia's main opposition social democrats elected former deputy prime minister Radmila Sekerinska as their new leader early Monday.

At an emergency congress of the Social-Democratic Alliance for Macedonia, Sekerinksa, 34, won the overwhelming majority of the vote.

She was the only candidate to replace former prime minister Vlado Buckovski, who stepped down after the party lost July's parliamentary elections to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservative VMRO-DPMNE party.

"We are turning a new page," Sekerinska told reporters after the vote.

Considered a close ally of Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, Sekerinska served as deputy prime minister responsible for Macedonia's EU integration in Buckovski's leftist coalition government.

Macedonia applied to join the European Union in March 2004 and was accepted as a candidate last year, after the European Commission praised its efforts in dealing with an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001.

The social democrats have 24 deputies in Macedonia's 120-seat unicameral parliament.

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