Sofia Echo

South Eastern Europe

Protests, international concern over Albania’s election crisis

Author: Clive Leviev-Sawyer Date: Sun, May 22 2011 7 Comments, 6101 Views
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Protests by supporters of socialist leader Edi Rama in Tirana on May 21 2011 were among the latest episodes in the drama around the disputed mayoral election in the Albanian capital.
Provisional results of the May 8 mayoral election produced a 10-vote victory for Rama, but the central election commission embarked on a recount that reportedly produced a victory for Lulezim Basha, the candidate backed by Albania’s governing Democratic Party.
Political tensions in Albania have been running high since the disputed 2009 elections.
In the run-up to the May 8 2011 elections, there were violent incidents and media reports alleging electoral abuses including manipulation of voters’ rolls.
In a joint statement on May 20, the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Slovenia expressed concern about developments after the election and said that the polarised situation and the lack of trust between the ruling party and the opposition showed the need to overcome differences in the name of dialogue and understanding.
A stable and democratic Albania was crucial to stability and development of the Western Balkans and upholding democratic standards was crucial to Albania’s EU prospects, the joint statement said.
On May 20, the European Commission called on Albania's electoral commission to announce the results of May 8 local elections without delay.
Albanian opposition demonstrators clashed with police outside the election commission building on May 19 where the recount was being conducted, the Voice of America reported.

The protestors attempted to push past a police cordon outside the building.
Protests also erupted in three other towns, including Kavaja, where roads were blocked and people burned tyres, CNN said.
The political tensions prompted European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to cancel his visit to Albania scheduled for May 20.
European Commission spokesperson Natasha Butler denied the cancellation indicated a disengagement from Albania, VOA said.
Butler said that the European Commission was closely monitoring the situation.
On May 19, US assistant secretary of state in the bureau for European and Eurasian affairs Philip Gordon called on Albanian politicians to "focus on constructive engagement actions befitting a future member of the European Union and not on negative rhetoric or actions, which serve only to denigrate the process".
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on May 19 for a peaceful resolution.
"The narrow result in the mayoral elections in Tirana means that both sides need to reach out, overcome differences and find solutions," Ashton said.
"Developments today have shown the fragility of the political situation," Ashton said. "I urge all political leaders in Albania and in the city of Tirana to support the finalisation of the election process calmly, constructively and with a focus on the future."

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    • Anonymous
      DH Rating:
      #7 22, 26, Mon, May 30 2011

      Who did the sign writers learn their English from? How rude!

    • Anonymous
      bes Rating:
      #6 23, 04, Fri, May 27 2011

      berisha is the best option for albania to stay stable, if rama takes over the people will sufer till he owns the cuntry.
      All leaders in albania think of betering themselfs first not the country and its people, but at least people are a bit free with the remuval of needing a visa to travel to europe so they got a chance to escape and work abroad.

    • Anonymous
      angloalbanin Rating:
      #5 22, 49, Tue, May 24 2011

      The one who wrote that sign is a democrat seeing the parti losing the grip and is trying to say what r we doing all this fuss.

    • Anonymous
      angloalbanin Rating:
      #4 22, 32, Tue, May 24 2011

      Berisha is a subhuman I supported him until 2000 but ever since he has proved that is nothing but a dictator or more acurat tirant {some one who ignores his rules}
      He has turnted the nation in a type of corruption that only few central African countrys are that bad.
      Berish has no integrity it is hard to describe him. He went to Shkodra today 4 inagurating a bridge and he promist them that thay will be rewarded because thay voted for him. See how low his intelligence is. His related people have riped of the [...]

      Read the full comment money from EU 4 the past 20 years and the ordinary Albanian suffering to servive.
      I have been out of the country for the past 13 years and just making a home for my perents. Thay want €500 to connect the electricity no where else this happens.
      He has distroyed the country so bad that it is unripearable at least for this generation { virus of corruptions unremovable }.
      EU must stop spending in Albania. We will only learn in the hard way. I think this is because we were brought up that way komunisem or maybe criminals ruling the country. I think Albanians have understood now who Berisha is but from my opinion is too late because the damage is allready done. God be with us if there is any.

    • Anonymous
      matjani Rating:
      #3 03, 33, Tue, May 24 2011

      Its a shame on us not to be able to remove both sides from power.. Their roots are so to deep,i feel they are brothers and both are Enver Hoxhas spoiled sons !!

    • Anonymous
      Pete Hodge Rating:
      #2 10, 21, Mon, May 23 2011

      There was always the chance that the Tirane result would be 'fixed' if Berisha had his way. For at least ten years he has done everything he could to get Edi Rama out. In fact, Berisha has never accepted any election result where he did not win.

      As for the EU. They need to keep out of it. Just as Albania needs to avoid entering the EU as there is no democracy in that institution.

      So long as Berisha is around there will be no political peace in Albania.

    • Anonymous
      agron Rating:
      #1 02, 16, Mon, May 23 2011

      nice photo reuters: i cant believe it either

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