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Macedonia holds poll re-run after violent vote

Latest update : 2008-06-15

Voters in Macedonia turned out again to cast their ballot at polling stations where results had been cancelled after a snap general elections two weeks ago due to violence and irregularities. The ruling conservatives are guaranteed a landslide win.

Polling came to an end Sunday in a partial re-run of Macedonia's general elections, in those areas where results were cancelled two weeks ago due to violence and irregularities.

"The elections today were held peacefully and in the majority of cases the vote was carried out in accordance with the law," State Electoral Commission spokesman Zoran Tanevski told AFP.

Turnout at the 187 polling stations -- which represents around nine percent of the electorate -- was put at 43.2 percent two hours before voting closed at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT), after 12 hours.

Sunday's re-vote cannot affect the overall outcome of the June 1 polls in Macedonia, which handed Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservatives a landslide victory.

However, the elections two weeks ago were tainted by violence in areas mainly populated by Macedonia's 25-percent ethnic Albanian minority.

The unrest, the worst since Macedonia was on the brink of an all-out war between government and ethnic Albanian forces in 2001, was seen as undermining the country's ambitions to join the EU and NATO.

Riding on a wave of patriotism after Greece blocked Macedonia's bid to enter NATO, Gruevski's VMRO-DPMNE party won more than twice the number of parliamentary seats than its nearest rivals, the Social Democratic Union.

Macedonia -- which peacefully broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 -- has been an EU candidate since 2005 but is still waiting for a date for the membership talks to begin.

Its efforts to join NATO were blocked earlier this year by Greece due to a dispute over the country's name, which is shared by a northern Greek region.

Date created : 2008-06-15