Macedonia: Elections marred by violence

3 Giugno Giu 2008 0200 03 giugno 2008

MOST, a local NGO, has reported a number of grave violations of proper electoral procedures following the 2008 Parliamentary elections held in Macedonia on Sunday June 1st

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MOST, a local NGO, has reported a number of grave violations of proper electoral procedures following the 2008 Parliamentary elections held in Macedonia on Sunday June 1st

The 2008 Parliamentary Elections in Macedonia, held last Sunday, June 1, were tainted by serious violence on the ballot day, resulting in one death, several wounded people and dozens of arrests.

The coalition For Better Macedonia, led by the incumbent Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and running on platform of continued reforms and national self-confidence, won an overwhelming victory and will control the Sobranie with 64 seats.

The opposition coalition SUN ? Coalition for Europe, won just 28 seats in the new parliament, the worst ballot day outcome for the centre-left Social Democratic Union of Macedonia in the history of the party.

The other parties that won seats in the Sobranie include DPA, DUI and PDP, parties of the Macedonian Albanians, and the small Party for European Future (PEI).

These are, however, just preliminary results, because it is obvious that elections have to be rerun in a number of polling stations, mostly in northwestern parts of Macedonia, where election and campaign violence were the worse. The results can change, depending on the results of rerun vote, with For Better Macedonian ceding up to two seats to the parties of Albanian Macedonians.

The worse incidents were registered in Skopje`s suburban municipality of Aracinovo, where one person was killed in shootout with the police called to intervene by the local Election Committee and prevent apparent attempt at ballot stuffing. In another incident, the activists of DPA and DUI (Democratic Party of Albanians and Union for Democratic Integration) engaged into a shoot-out, in which several innocent bystanders and early voters were wounded.

The Police arrested a total of 28 people, including several members of the Police, for their involvement in the incidents and variety of other charges, including illegal possession of arms and narcotics, criminal association, etc.

Citizens Association MOST says in its preliminary assessment that its observers noted a number of grave violations of proper electoral procedures, including ballot stuffing, burning and theft of voting materials, proxy and group voting. MOST adds that the citizens were intimidated and under lot of pressure by the incidents intended to scare them away from the polling stations.

The association commended the readiness of the State Election Commission and municipal election commissions for quick and effective reaction, but noted that the institutions face the challenge to preserve the legitimacy of the election process.

International representatives also expressed their deep concern over the events of last Sunday. OSCE/ODIHR Monitoring Mission, in its preliminary report, says that, although Elections were well organized from administrative point of view, the authorities have not done nearly enough to prevent the ballot day violence in north-western Macedonia, in spite of having sufficient indication of what may lay at hand from the violent election campaign.

Macedonian authorities pledged full investigation and legal action against all perpetrators involved in violent incidents and other violations of proper voting procedure.

EU and US representatives condemned the violence, noting that it may be held against Macedonia and its efforts for integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions and associations, and demanded that all irregularities are removed for the rerun elections.

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