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News 28 Jan 13

Albanian Parties Trade Jibes Ahead of Elections

Albania’s Socialists accused the ruling Democrats of planning to rig the June 23 polls while the governing party claimed the opposition was trying to spark another crisis.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

As the political environment heated up ahead of the parliamentary elections, Socialist Party leader Edi Rama said the government was planning to rig the vote because the ruling Democrats were behind in opinion polls.

“Our poll data shows that the Democrats will secure less than 60 MPs [in the 140-member chamber] at the June 23 elections,” Rama said during the party’s national assembly on Saturday.

“In these conditions, it is perfectly understandable but also worthy of condemnation that they want to oppose us unconstitutionally and by force,” he said.

Berisha hit back on Monday by accusing the Socialist leader of plotting to delegitimise the election process and contest the results, as he did after the last parliamentary polls in 2009.

“I have all the information that Rama is preparing the same script as in 2009,” Berisha said during a meeting of his Democratic Party's parliamentary group.

“We will hold elections to international standards, but never according to Rama’s standards,” he added.

The Socialist opposition maintains that the 2009 parliamentary elections were marred by fraud, while the government hailed them as the best elections the country has ever seen.

After the contested polls, the opposition boycotted parliament for nearly a year, sparking a divisive political crisis which culminated in riots on January 21, 2011, during which four of its supporters were killed.

Albania has long history of elections that did not meet international standards and ended in political disputes.

The June 23 polls are seen as another key test for the country’s already battered aspirations for EU membership.

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