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Monitors Slam Macedonia Poll After 'Irregularities'

28 March 2005 -- International monitors are criticizing Macedonia's government for "widespread irregularities" in yesterday's municipal elections.

Macedonians voted in runoffs for 57 mayoral races, while first-round voting was repeated at 33 polling stations in 10 municipalities -- including parts of the capital Skopje and Tetovo, the country's second-largest municipality.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said today that the voting occurred in a "generally orderly manner" but was fraught with problems, including numerous cases of ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting.

Julian Peel Yates, head of the 260-member OSCE observer mission, said there were "persistent and widespread irregularities," which he said causes "serious concern."

The OSCE said procedures were "bad" or "very bad" in 14 percent of the polling stations observed, including intimidation outside polling stations.