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Macedonia: Political Leaders Strike Amnesty Deal


Skopje, 31 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Macedonian government says four major Slavic-Macedonian and ethnic Albanian political leaders have reached an amnesty deal for former rebels. Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said after the meeting yesterday in Skopje that experts will start working out the details of the new law today. But local media reports did not disclose any further details on the draft law, which was reached under the mediation of European Union special envoy Alain Le Roy.

Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski has already pardoned 64 former members of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army. There are still 24 candidates for pardon in a proposal that Justice Minister Ixhet Memeti made in late November.

Meanwhile, multiethnic security forces earlier yesterday regained control of 10 Macedonian villages previously controlled by ethnic Albanian rebels, but were blocked from entering others.

The Macedonian police units, comprising ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, entered the villages in northwestern Macedonia accompanied by international monitors. The villages had been under rebel control since last year's ethnic Albanian insurgency.

A Western-brokered peace plan signed in August called for the police patrols to reclaim rebel territory, once lawmakers granted minorities greater rights.

But residents of about five villages prevented the police forces from entering their towns, employing both roadblocks and threats.

In the village of Celopek, near Tetovo, police reported that a building meant to house members of the multiethnic police was badly damaged by a bomb, but no one was hurt. Celopek has been patrolled by the new force since last week.

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