Friday, June 06, 2008

Macedonians ‘Know Who is Behind Violence’

The public knows who is responsible for the pre-election violence in Macedonia, the United States ambassador to Macedonia argues.

However Gillian Milovanovic restrained from pointing fingers at anyone arguing that it would be counterproductive to do so just three days before the June 1 vote.

“I can not and I do not want to name the people who are causing incidents during the election campaign but the public knows who is responsible,” Milovanovic told local Alsat M TV.

The U.S. Embassy is not happy with how the police have handled the violence adding that the biggest victims far have been the ethnic Albanians.

Since the beginning of the campaign a series of incidents have taken place mainly in the rural north-west of the country which are largely populated with ethnic Albanians.

The media have counted nearly 30 incidents so far mainly involving attacks on local party headquarters of the main Albanian opposition party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

The police arrested two for the May 12 shooting near the western town of Tetovo which the DUI leader Ali Ahmeti claims was an attempt on his life.

The DUI accused their bitter political rivals from the ruling Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA for orchestrating the violence. The DPA denied allegations of any involvement.

Senior European Union officials have set free and fair elections as one of the country’s benchmarks that will decide whether Macedonia gets a firm date for the start of EU accession talks this autumn.

On Sunday, nearly 1.7 million Macedonian voters will cast their votes in the first snap general election since the country’s independence.

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