Opposition leads vote count in Albania: Official

TIRANA: A coalition led by Albania’s opposition  Socialist Party was on Tuesday leading the race to form the Balkan nation’s  next government after weekend polls. With three quarters of...
TIRANA: A coalition led by Albania’s opposition  Socialist Party was on Tuesday leading the race to form the Balkan nation’s  next government after weekend polls. With three quarters of the ballots counted, the coalition had won 53 per cent of the vote, with an alliance led by outgoing conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s Democratic Party at 36 per cent, the electoral commission said.  
   

Edi Rama

The opposition coalition said its projections show that it could win 84 out of 140 seats in parliament.     Meanwhile, the head of the Socialist Party Edi Rama, called again on his rival to concede defeat. 

   
“We are waiting patiently for our opponent to accept defeat,” Rama told reporters.     “Albanians have chosen to close an era and open another one. The results are beyond our most optimistic forecasts,” the 49-year-old former Tirana mayor  said.    
Rama, who contested the results of the 2009 elections, said the results of Sunday’s vote represented a “triumph for Albanians who decided to close the chapter on electoral frauds.”    

But Majlinda Bregu, a ruling coalition official, declined to comment on the results “as long as counting continues.”     

Sunday’s general election was closely followed by Brussels, which has twice rejected Albania’s EU membership applications, and has said the polls  “represent a crucial test for the country’s democratic institutions and its progress towards the European Union.”    

The election was marred by the killing on Sunday of an opposition activist in a shoot-out in the town of Lac. Seven people were arrested after the incident in which three more people, including a candidate of Berisha’s party, were wounded.


International monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said they had seen “slight progress” in the electoral process. But the OSCE added in a statement that “the atmosphere of mistrust between the two main political forces tainted the electoral environment and challenged the administration of the entire electoral process.”

The two main rivals have been accusing each other of vote-buying and  electoral roll irregularities, raising concerns there could be a repeat of the  2009 polls which triggered months of political turmoil and government paralysis.     

Agence France-Presse

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