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Cablegate: Macedonia's Elections: Ruling Party Wins, Country

VZCZCXRO9152
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSQ #0359/01 1541706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021706Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7395
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 0327
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUESEN/SKOPJE BETA
RUEHSQ/USDAO SKOPJE MK
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2288
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SKOPJE 000359

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/SCE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV NATO MK
SUBJECT: MACEDONIA'S ELECTIONS: RULING PARTY WINS, COUNTRY
LOSES

REF: SKOPJE 356

SUMMARY
---------

1. (SBU) Macedonia's June 1 snap parliamentary elections
resulted in an expected victory and absolute majority for the
ruling VMRO party. Despite numerous international community
(IC) and media appeals for free and fair elections in the
run-up to Election Day (reftel), voting was marred by
numerous incidents of gross election irregularities,
including ballot-stuffing, voter intimidation, and violence
that resulted in one fatality and several injured. While
governing coalition partners VMRO and DPA labeled the
elections "free and fair," opposition SDSM and DUI, and IC
and local observers condemned the violence and intimidation,
which included illegal detention of election observers. PM
Gruevski has pledged to conduct reruns in all disputed areas,
to punish all persons responsible for the violence, and to
delay coalition talks until after free and fair reruns are
held. End summary.

UNSURPRISING ELECTION RESULTS
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) As expected, governing VMRO won an absolute majority
of seats in Macedonia's June 1 early parliamentary elections,
followed by its rival SDSM. Results for the two biggest
eAlbanian parties, DUI and DPA, remain uncertain pending DUI
appeals of the voting in two of the country's six electoral
districts where there were widespread instances of fraud.
Two smaller parties --eAlbanian party PDP and Macedonian
Muslim party PEI-- may succeed in getting one MP seat each.
With 98% of the ballots counted, the State Electoral
Committee (SEC) has put overall voter turnout at 57.45% of
all eligible voters. Using SEC figures, the following
parties are expected to enter Parliament:

VMRO -- 64 MP seats (479,219 votes)
SDSM -- 28 MP seats (231,978 votes)
DUI -- 14 MP seats (107,230 votes)*
DPA -- 12 MP seats (100,569 votes)*
PDP -- 1 MP seat (8,847 votes)
PEI -- 1 MP seat (7,669 votes)

*likely to change after reruns

ELECTIONS MARRED BY VIOLENCE...
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) Early on the morning of June 1, in the village of
Aracinovo near Skopje, police engaged in a firefight with DUI
activists, resulting in one fatality and at least five
wounded persons. While the police claimed they returned fire
after a group of armed civilians shot at them from a house,
DUI said the victims were on their way out of a polling
station (PS) when the police opened fire. There also were
reports of an additional casualty, who is in critical
condition, after a shooting incident near DUI headquarters in
Cair, a suburb of Skopje.

...INTIMIDATION, AND UNLAWFUL DETENTION
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The Mission's election monitoring teams registered
instances in which people were physically prevented from
voting and were otherwise intimidated after talking to
international observers. Around noon, armed DPA activists in
the village of Poroj prevented a U.S. observer, her
teammates, police, and SEC officials from leaving a polling
station (PS) and threatening them with death if they attempt
to leave. The incident occurred when SEC officials,
accompanied by police, arrived to remove ballot boxes and
close the polling station because DPA had ejected the
municipal election board and replaced it entirely with DPA
personnel. A DPA MP ended the incident with a negotiated
"settlement," in which the captives were released if the SEC
officials agreed to permit the ballot boxes to remain and the
unaccredited DPA election board to continue to operate the
PS. The DPA operatives also confiscated the weapons of the
police on the scene. PM Gruevski told the Ambassador he

SKOPJE 00000359 002 OF 003


would follow up to ensure prosecution of the perpetrators.

...OTHER IRREGULARITIES
------------------------

5. (SBU) Signs of numerous election irregularities,
especially in Electoral District 1 (Skopje area) and Election
District 6 (northwestern Macedonia), started coming in as
early as the opening of the polls at 7 a.m. on June 1.
Irregularities reported included: massive ballot stuffing;
ballot burning; destroying ballot boxes; use of weapons in
close proximity to the PS; physical assaults on PS officials;
and chasing observers out of a PS. By mid-afternoon, over 60
PSs had been closed or had suspended operations, and were
deemed unsafe even for the police. Local election
observation NGO MOST reported that 97 of its observers had
been withdrawn for security reasons, or were prevented from
doing their jobs in a number of PSs. In the rest of the
country, there were reports of sporadic family voting, proxy
voting, and other incidents, but the overall situation was
much calmer.

GOVERNING PARTNERS: "A VICTORY FOR MACEDONIA"
---------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Hours after the polls closed, governing VMRO leader
Gruevski said the elections were "an enormous victory" for
the whole country. He added that there would be reruns in a
limited number of places to ensure that "each and every MP is
elected fairly." In a triumphalist speech, DPA's Thaci added
that this was DPA's "sweetest victory" and rejected any need
for reruns. (Note: Preliminary results point to a DUI
victory, but Thaci insisted that DPA was the party that
received more votes. End note). Despite independent
observer assessments that Thaci's party was behind the
majority of election irregularities throughout the day, Thaci
blamed rival DUI as the main culprit. (Note: In a June 2
meeting with the Ambassador, Gruevski pledged that there will
be no coalition talks until after reruns are completed in a
free and fair manner in the next two weeks. End note)

OPPOSITION: "THE PRICE IN HUMAN LIFE WAS TOO HIGH"
--------------------------------------------- -----

7. (SBU) Opposition SDSM leader Sekerinska congratulated VMRO
for its victory, but added that the fatality and other
violent incidents indicated that the conduct of the elections
had been "unacceptable." DUI's Ahmeti said that, rather than
a "day of joy and freedom," Election Day had been "a blood
bath" orchestrated by DPA. He added that the results in
Election District 6 and in the municipality of Saraj in
Election District 1 were unacceptable because of intimidation
of observers and electoral officials.

OBSERVERS CONDEMN IRREGULARITIES
--------------------------------

8. (SBU) Throughout the day on June 1, the Embassy was in
touch with all parties, urging them to calm their activists
and stop the violence. The Ambassador called the PM and
urged him to exert pressure over his coalition partner DPA to
stop the harassment and violence. Her intervention appeared
to result in the early afternoon arrest of DPA-affiliated
crime boss Agim Krasniqi and some of his associates, all of
them implicated in numerous violent incidents on Election
Day, on charges of organizing a group to prevent others from
voting.

9. (SBU) On June 2, the OSCE Office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) made public its
preliminary conclusions from the June 1 elections. Although
the elections were "well administered procedurally," ODIHR
assessed that Macedonia had failed to meet "key OSCE and
Council of Europe commitments" due to "a failure to prevent
violent acts" and "the limited and selective enforcement of
laws." ODIHR concluded that the overall assessment of the
June 1 elections "will depend on whether the authorities will
thoroughly investigate these serious violations."

10. (U) Earlier the same day, the local election monitoring
NGO MOST said that "isolated but serious" incidents had

SKOPJE 00000359 003 OF 003


tarnished the integrity of the elections in certain areas of
the country. Only the SEC's readiness for quick and
efficient reruns in a wide range of "problematic places,"
according to MOST, would improve the overall situation after
the elections.

COMMENT
-------

11. (SBU) These elections represent a significant setback for
Macedonia's democratic development, and for its NATO
membership prospects. We, the EU, OSCE, and ODIHR have given
the GOM room to repair the damage, however, if the government
ensures free, fair and peaceful reruns. Gruevski has pledged
to do that, and we will do our utmost to ensure he follows
through on his commitment and returns Macedonia to the
positive course it was on before he made the fateful decision
to call the early elections.
Milovanovic

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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