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Monday, August 07, 2006

Ethnic Albanians blockade roads in Macedonia

Skopje, 7 August (AKI) - Activitists from the leading ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) on Monday blocked all main roads in the country in protest at being left out of the new government of incoming prime minister Nikola Gruevski. The first day of a planned week of roadblocks passed without incidents, according to local media reports.

DUI won 17 seats in the 120-seat parliament, but Gruevski, whose nationalist VMRO DPMNE party won the majority of votes in the 5 July general election, decided to form a coalition with the DUI’s arch rival, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), which won 11 parliamentary seats. Ethnic Albanians form about 25 per cent of Macedonia’s population of two million.

"This is just the beginning of our revolt against the prime minister designate, who ignores the will of Albanians in Macedonia,” said DUI official, Idaet Medjiti. He said that roadblocks lasting half an hour will last throughout the week in all villages and towns with an ethnic Albanian majority, until Gruevski changes his mind.

The DPA, which was a coalition partner in the ourgoing government of prime minister Vlado Buckovski, defeated in the elections, appealed to DUI to "stop crying," and to resign itself to an opposition role. DUI’s complaints showed that the ethnic Albanian rebellion in 2001, spearheaded by the DUI, wasn’t a "fight for human rights of Albanians in Macedonia, but for power," DPA said in a statement.

Grueski, who needs the DUI's support to govern - has said he will announce his cabinet on 2 August - a bank holiday in Macedonia. European Union officials have urged him to carry on with the reforms Macedonia needs to implement to join the EU.

The EU has also said Macedonia also respect the 2001 Ohrid peace agreement which ended the ethnic Albanian rebellion, granting local Albanians broad autonomy and control of several towns through municipal decentralisation.

Macedonia is an official candidate for EU membership, but no precise entry date has yet been set.
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