MACEDONIA FOR ETHNIC DISTRICTS? REFERENDUM TO DECIDE

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BELGRADE/SKOPJE, November 7 (RIA Novosti) - Macedonia is going to the polls today on a national referendum. Will the country decentralize, is the only question. The nation is speaking up on a bill to divide the country in Macedonian- and Albanian-populated ethnic districts-an arrangement envisaged by the Ochrida peace treaty of 2001, which prevented escalation of an interethnic armed conflict.

A total 1.7 million voters of age are welcome to the polls at 2,700 stations. The referendum will be considered valid if more than a half of the registered franchised population vote.

Activists of the World Macedonian Congress, which has done more than any other organization for the referendum, and other opposition leaders called their supporters to come to the polls and say no to slicing out the country on ethnic patterns so to favor Albanians.

Leaders of ethnic Albanian and other political parties on the ruling coalition are, on the contrary, calling to boycott the referendum lest it automatically bring the disputable law into force.

Spokesmen of several West European countries lately pronounced in favor of Macedonia divided-otherwise, it will have major problems to join Euro-Atlantic institutions, they warn.

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