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Macedonian Referendum Fails

8 November 2004 -- A referendum in Macedonia to try to block a government plan to give ethnic Albanians more local power has failed.

Electoral officials said only about 26 percent of eligible voters in Macedonia had taken part in the referendum yesterday. A 50 percent turnout was needed for the outcome to be valid.

The referendum had asked Macedonians whether they would back revoking a plan -- already passed by parliament -- to redraw local boundaries to give the country's 25 percent Albanian minority greater local powers.

The plan is part of a three-year-old peace plan brokered by the West to end months of clashes between Macedonian government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 2001.

The opposition said redrawing the boundaries would fuel separatism. The government had urged people to boycott the referendum.