Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Macedonian race for next president

A total of seven candidates, three of them ethnic Albanians, will run in the March 22 ballot, with the ruling VMRO-DPMNE represented by Djordje Ivanov.

The opposition candidate and, according to analysts , the election's front runner, is Ljubomir Frchkoski.

However, former Interior Minister Ljube Boshkoski is emerging as "the most interesting candidate", our reporter in Skopje says.

He spent four years detained at the Hague Tribunal, undergoing a trial there accused of 2001 murder of ethnic Albanians, but was acquitted of all charges last year.

Both Boshkoski and Frchkoski spoke for B92 on Saturday.

Boshkoski said he is not hiding his disappointment over the fact that VMRO-DPMNE, a party of which he is a member, did not choose him to run.

"I have four years of Hague solitude behind me. In a room sized 2.5 square meters I had time to think about Macedonia's future. Even during the first days after my departure I realized that the situation in Macedonia was alarming and that my country was extremely isolated. You know, although I returned from jail, I am in this way imprisoned again, and I cannot allow for that to happen."

"I disagree with some moves made by Premier [Nikola] Gruevski, but what worries me the most is his insistence on the Macedonians' ancient roots. This Aryan theory is something we don't need at all," Boshkovski said.

Frchkoski, on the other hand, sees it as his "personal challenge" to stand against "the authoritarian rule that has isolated Macedonia managing to push in into a Balkan corner".

"After twenty years of independence we are once again setting up the basic security issues, of whether or not Macedonia will face internal federalization and whether Albanians will separate in local municipalities."

"We cannot expect fair elections, the most we can expect is for them to be calm. Unfortunately these are the election criteria just like in Africa," said he.

Meanwhile, it is already clear that ethnic Albanian votes from the first round will go to the Macedonian bloc candidate that will be most accommodating to Albanian conditions and demands, our reporter says.

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