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Albanian opposition protests against alleged 'vote theft' in local election

22. May 2011. | 09:23

Source: MIA

Scores of buses brought Albanian opposition supporters to the capital Tirana Saturday to protest against a decision to add previously uncounted votes to the total in the election for the city's mayor.

Scores of buses brought Albanian opposition supporters to the capital Tirana Saturday to protest against a decision to add previously uncounted votes to the total in the election for the city's mayor.

An election commission is counting ballots cast into the wrong ballot boxes during the May 8 election. An initial count showed opposition Socialist Party leader Edi Rama ahead by just 10 votes over Lulzim Basha, a former interior minister of the governing Democrat party.

Saturday is the opposition's the fourth day of protests against what it calls "vote theft."

Prime Minister Sali Berisha appealed to people to wait patiently for the final results.

"I guarantee that the responsible legal institutions have all the potential to give a correct solution to the close race in Tirana," he said.

"We shall get what we deserve, the victory which the people gave us with their votes," said Rama. "Let's resist, resist, resist."

Basha appealed for those protesting to remain peaceful, saying that "roadblocks, clashes with police and violent protests do not help this process."

Albania has been gripped by a political crisis for almost two years, with the opposition alleging corruption among the governing Democrats and accusing them of rigging national elections in 2009. Four opposition supporters were shot dead in clashes with police in January. Berisha has rejected opposition calls for his resignation.

President Bamir Topi called on the political parties to respect the law.

"We call on all politicians to give messages for calm, avoid moments of tension," he said after meeting with ambassadors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union and the United States.

All final results have been delayed as the commission deals with the key poll in Tirana.

An interim report of international observers said that the political intervention in the counting process has increased tension in the country.

"The counting process was affected by a high level of mistrust among political parties," said the report from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which monitored the process with some 340 observers.


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