Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

France's top consumer group sues Internet giants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to South Korea ferry victims

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

  • Why Syria’s cash-strapped jihadists let hostages go

    Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • The Great War's unsung four-legged heroes

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • Curfew call after deadly clash at Ukraine checkpoint

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

Europe

Both sides claim victory in crucial Albania election

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-06-23

With conflicting results from exit polls, both Albania’s ruling coalition and main opposition party claimed victory in a crucial parliamentary election Sunday which was marred by the fatal shooting of an opposition activist.

Albania’s ruling party and opposition traded claims of victory on Sunday in a parliamentary election watched closely by Western allies worried about the state of democracy in the NATO country.

After a vote marred by a fatal shootout, opposition Socialist Party leader Edi Rama called on Prime Minister Sali Berisha to “prepare the transition” after two consecutive terms at the helm of the ex-communist Adriatic nation.

“Our data says we won over the forces of destruction,” Rama told cheering supporters at his party headquarters.

He gave no figures and Berisha’s Democratic Party swiftly disputed the claim. Two exit polls gave conflicting results and such surveys have not proved accurate in the past.

“I assure you it is our full belief that Albanians voted convincingly for our alliance,” senior Democrat lawmaker Majlinda Bregu told supporters.

The claim and counter-claim, in the absence of any official word from the Central Election Commission, raised the spectre of a disputed result in a country that has seen post-election confrontation before.

Analysts said the claims appeared aimed at rallying party faithful. Vote-counting is carried out by party rank-and-file, in a system Western diplomats say is flawed and frequently leads to disputes and delays.

Since the end of Albania’s communist rule in 1991, the impoverished country of 2.8 million people has never held an election deemed fully free and fair, and failure again would further set back its ambitions to join the European Union.

Buoyed by an alliance with a small leftist party previously in coalition with Berisha, Rama scents victory.

But a political row has left the Election Commission short-staffed and unable to certify the result.

A shooting in the northwestern Lac region, in which an opposition activist was killed and a Democrat candidate wounded, raised fears of fresh confrontation in a country deeply polarised between the Democrats and the Socialists.

Television pictures showed bullet casings scattered across the street and the smashed rear window of a car. Police said four weapons were fired.

EU: 'CRUCIAL TEST'

Rama lost the last election in 2009 and four people were shot dead by security forces when opposition protesters took to the streets.

Berisha, a fiery former cardiologist, was bidding for a third consecutive four-year term, unprecedented since the fall of communism.

“I voted No. 44 (Democratic Party). I touched fate. A feeling of pleasure engulfed me, a feeling I have not felt before,” he said after voting in the capital, Tirana.

Berisha has dominated Albanian political life since the collapse of its Stalinist rule triggered a breakneck and sometimes violent transition to capitalism. At 68, defeat could spell the end of his career.

Rama pulled his three representatives from the seven-member Election Commission in April after the coalition government sacked a member whose party had switched sides to support the Socialists.

The Socialists and Berisha’s Democrats differ little on Albania’s goal of joining the European Union or its pro-Western policy. But their confrontational relationship does not sit easy with Brussels or Albania’s NATO allies.

The EU says the election is a “crucial test” before Albania can draw closer to the 27-nation bloc, which Croatia will join in July. Albania applied to join four years ago but has not yet been made a candidate for membership.

The next government will take on an economy feeling the effects of the crisis in the euro zone, notably in Greece and Italy where about 1 million Albanians work and send money home. While Albania has avoided recession, remittances are down and public debt and the budget deficit are rising.

“I hope and wish the elections will turn out to be very good,” shopkeeper Teuta Muskaj, a mother of two unemployed law graduates, said after voting in Tirana. “I expect better for the future of my children.”

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-06-23

  • ALBANIA

    Crisis escalates in Albania as opposition parties swap blame

    Read more

  • ALBANIA

    Tens of thousands rally in call for recount of 2009 vote

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)