Macedonia calls presidential election for March 22
Macedonia's presidential and local elections will be held on March 22, the parliamentary speaker said.
Macedonia's presidential and local elections will be held on March 22, the parliamentary speaker said on Saturday, adding that they must be free and fair to help its EU membership bid.
The European Union has called on the candidate country to remedy irregularities in the conduct of its elections after western countries criticised violence and intimidation in mainly ethnic Albanian areas in a 2008 parliamentary poll.
"A fair and democratic election .... is the most important thing for our European Union membership," Trajko Veljanovski told reporters after announcing the election date.
Macedonia submitted an application to become a member of the European Union in 2004, but it is yet to start negotiations on the membership of the 27-nation block.
The VMRO-DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski won the election in June and gained the healthiest majority in parliament in more than a decade, finding support from nationalist anger over Greece blocking Macedonia's NATO membership invitation in April.
Election monitors criticised authorities for failing to prevent violence in ethnic Albanian areas that killed one man and wounded nine others. They also noted instances of intimidation and ballot-box stuffing.
Reuters Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2009, 11:39