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Macedonia: Government Seeks Arrest Of Ethnic Albanian Politician

Skopje, 29 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Macedonian government said today it had issued arrest warrants for three former ethnic Albanian rebel leaders for genocide and war crimes. The three include Ali Ahmeti, who recently launched his own political party to contest next month's parliamentary election. Interior Ministry spokesman Vojislav Zafirovski said Ahmeti and the other two, Gezim Ostreni and Fazli Veliu, must answer charges that include war crimes, genocide, and terrorism. The arrest warrants were issued in June.

Ahmeti's party, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, said the arrest warrants were part of a political campaign against Ahmeti.

The 15 September elections will be held under a Western-brokered peace deal that ended an ethnic Albanian rebellion last year. An amnesty extended to rebels was part of the peace deal but the Interior Ministry argued not all charges against Ahmeti were covered by the amnesty.

Foreign diplomats have urged Macedonia not to move against Ahmeti for fear of fresh unrest ahead of the election.