Tight security for Macedonian elections
Macedonian authorities promised tight security for Sunday's national elections at the close of a campaign marred by violence, including an assassination attempt against an ethnic Albanian opposition leader.
Interior minister Gordana Jankulovska said a "record high number" of police officers will be deployed at polling stations, especially in areas that have been hotspots in the past.
Police said at least one helicopter and a special police unit were deployed briefly Friday in the village of Vejce, near Tetovo, in the heart of the tiny Balkan country's restless ethnic Albanian area. Police said the unit was performing routine checks on the area before Sunday's vote. No incidents were reported.
The governing center-right coalition of popular Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski seems likely to defeat Radmila Secerinska's opposition Social Democrats.
But the real question appears to be whether the voting can be conducted without an escalation of violence in the ethnic Albanian northwest, which has alarmed Western observers.
The last day of campaigning appeared peaceful, with all major candidates holding their final rallies.
Since campaigning started three weeks ago, at least 10 regional offices of the Democratic Union for Integration, the largest ethnic Albanian opposition party, have been attacked - nine with gunfire and one with a hand grenade.
Ethnic Albanians account for about a quarter of Macedonia's 2.1 million population, and ethnic Albanian rebels mounted an armed uprising against the government in 2001. But since then, a fierce rivalry has grown between the two main Albanian parties.
Some 1.7 million Macedonians are eligible to cast votes for candidates from 18 groups competing for the 120 seats to serve a four-year term in the unicameral parliament, AP reported.