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Macedonian coalition survives no-confidence vote

The conservative government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has survived a vote of no-confidence. The opposition accused the government of stirring tensions with ethnic Albanians.

Reporters follow the session of Macedonia's parliament to approve the new conservative government in the capital Skopje, Macedonia, on Saturday, July 26, 2008. Macedonia's opposition parties, the left-of-center Sun coalition, led by the Social Democrats, and the Democratic Party of Albanians, or DPA, boycotted the parliament session. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

Mazedonien Parlament Skopje

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's coalition won the vote late on Friday by 68 votes to 42 in the 123-member parliament.

The opposition leftist Alliance for Macedonia brought the motion claiming the premier was guilty of stoking ill-feeling between the Macedonian majority and an ethnic Albanian minority that represents some 25 percent of the population.

Ironically, Gruevski and his conservative VMRO-DPMNE party survived thanks to the support of the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) party, the country's third largest, with which they are allied in the coalition.

Relations between the partner parties have recently been strained after the country's defense minister, an ethnic Albanian, paid tribute to rebels killed during a seven-month conflict in 2001 between government forces and Albanian rebels.

In response, Gruevski's party presented a draft law to give pensions to former government soldiers but not for the rebels.

Disunity within the coalition has been mirrored in wider society with instances of violence and civil unrest based on ethnic divides.

In mid-April five Macedonians were found shot dead with the subsequent arrest of three suspects arrest of three people over their alleged involvement in the murder was followed by incidents between police and ethnic Albanian demonstrators who demanded their liberation.

rc/mr (AFP, AP, dapd)