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EU, U.S. Envoys: Macedonia Not Ready For 'Credible' Elections

U.S. and European Union diplomats say Macedonia has thus far not done enough to hold "credible" parliamentary elections scheduled for April.

In a joint letter to interim Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev, EU Ambassador Aivo Orav and U.S. Ambassador Jess Baily agreed on February 21 with an opposition party's assessment of the situation.

The main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party has threatened to boycott the elections because they don't believe conditions exist for the polls to be free and fair.

The early parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for April 24, are part of an EU-backed deal reached last year between the government and the opposition to end several months of political standoff caused by a wire-tapping scandal implicating the government.

The ambassadors said they were particularly concerned at "reports of pressure and intimidation of voters and others" and the lack of an agreement "on media reforms to ensure a more level playing field."

The ambassadors said some party leaders had suggested June 5 as an alternative date for elections.

Macedonia has been an EU candidate nation since 2005.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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