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Macedonian PM Wins Election But Fails To Get 50 Percent

Skopje, 15 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- With nearly all votes counted, Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski has officially won the country's presidential election with 43 percent of the vote, less than the 50 percent needed to avoid a second-round runoff.

Skopje, 15 April 2004E, April 15 (NCA) -- Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski has won the first round of Macedonia's presidential election, which was held to replace Boris Trajkovski, who was killed in an air crash in Bosnia in February.

Crvenkovski's closest rival, Sasko Kedev, has about 34 percent of the vote. Crvenkovski and Kedev, of the conservative opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE), will now compete in a run-off election scheduled to be held on 24 April. Two other candidates, both ethnic Albanian, did not get enough votes to compete in the run-off. Official poll results are expected later today.

Crvenkovski is a member of the Social Democratic Union. No figures were available on voter turnout, but reports said it appeared to be over 50 percent, which would make the vote valid.

The four candidates were vying to replace the late president, Boris Trajkovski, who died in an air crash in February.