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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 23:53 GMT
Scuffles mar Macedonian elections
By Matt Prodger
BBC News

Voters in the Macedonian capital, Skopje
The elections are the first under a new system
There have been scuffles between rival groups at polling stations in Macedonia during municipal elections.

But despite this, officials said turnout appeared to have been good and irregularities few.

They were the first polls since boundaries were redrawn to give a greater say to ethnic Albanians, who make up about 25% of the population.

According to the Macedonian election commission, at least three voting stations were shut by the fighting.

In one case, ballot-boxes were damaged by two men fighting over them.

Greater autonomy was given to ethnic Albanian areas as part of a peace deal struck in 2001.

The deal ended a six-month insurgency by Albanian rebels.

About 1.7m people were eligible to vote in 85 new areas.

Many ethnic Macedonians, who make up a majority of the population, are unhappy with the electoral changes.

But ethnic tension is just one of Macedonia's problems.

Most people are more concerned about the fact that nearly one third of them are unemployed, and the average monthly salary amounts to little more than $200 (110).


SEE ALSO:
Crucial poll fails in Macedonia
08 Nov 04 |  Europe
Macedonia cabinet survives vote
19 Sep 04 |  Europe


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