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Albanian Times, 96-05-27

The Albanian Times (by AlbAmerica TRade & Consulting International) Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: AlbAmerica Trade & Consulting International <http://www.worldweb.net/~ww1054/>

Albanian Times
May 27, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] Socialists Boycott Elections
  • [02] President Berisha's First Comments on Socialist Boycott
  • [03] U.S. Backed Monitors Confirm Harassment During Poll
  • [04] Two More Parties Withdraw From Elections

  • [01] Socialists Boycott Elections

    TIRANA, May 26 - Albania's main opposition Socialist Party has withdrawn from the country's third post-communist election, accusing the ruling party of intimidation. The main opposition Socialist Party was quoted as saying at least ten of its members were arrested to intimidate voters. Democratic Alliance party, the joint second largest opposition group, said earlier it was also pulling out from the poll. ``We do not recognise the result of the elections whatever it is,'' chief Socialist Party spokesman Kastriot Islami told a news conference. The centre- right Democratic Alliance and centre-left Social Democrats held six seats each in the 140-member parliament which was dissolved in March. There was no immediate comment from President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party. The Socialists alleged hundreds of representatives of opposition parties in the electoral committees had been beaten and wounded, detained and many polling stations had been closed since early in the day. ``With the full knowledge of the president of the republic, the vote has been controlled and directed by the police, the secret police and gangs of the Democratic Party,'' Islami said. He added voting had taken place ``in a climate of terror.'' The Socialist Party urged the Central Electoral Commission, in charge of election organisation, and the Constitutional Court, to declare the poll invalid and to hold a fresh ballot ``under guaranteed democratic conditions.'' There was no independent confirmation of the alleged polling irregularities. (Albanian Times/Reuters/ANSA/AP)

    [02] President Berisha's First Comments on Socialist Boycott

    TIRANA, May 26 - In his first comments after the boycott of the elections by the opposition, Albanian president Sali Berisha accused the Socialists of organizing terrorist groups to undermine the poll. "The Socialists made their decision to withdraw after...their sinister plots failed," Berisha told radio Voice of America heard in Tirana. "We have full documentation on this (activity)," Berisha added. Berisha also accused the Socialists of trying to falsify ballot record forms. "The Socialist Party has distributed in the entire country falsified forms and intended to announce forged voting results tonight at 3 a.m. Faced with this situation, the central Election Commission decided to change the color of the forms and the new forms were distributed all over Albania today at 8 a.m.," Berisha said. Berisha added the Socialist withdrawal will have a positive impact on the political stability of Albania. He said he was convinced that the Socialist Party would head towards disintegration. "The boycott does n ot affect at all the honest vote counting and the fairness of the elections," Berisha stressed. (Albanian Times)

    [03] U.S. Backed Monitors Confirm Harassment During Poll

    TIRANA, May 26 - A U.S.-backed election monitoring group said some incidents of threats and violence had occurred during Albania's general election on Sunday, the first independent confirmation of harassment during the ballot. The non-profit Society for Democratic Culture (SDC) was unable, however, to back allegations of official nationwide intimidation made by most of Albania's opposition parties, which pulled out of the election mid-way through the voting. It could not say who was to blame for the incidents. The month-long election campaign was plagued by claims and counter-claims of dirty tricks, with repeated allegations by the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition Socialists during the past 24 hours of stabbings and beatings. The SDC told Reuters it could confirm two violent attacks and one case of voter intimidation, all in the town of Berat, about 120 km (80 miles) south of the capital Tirana. ``At 9.30 p.m. (1930 GMT) a Socialist member of the local electoral committee in Berat was beaten up outside a polling centre and was sent to hospital,'' said a spokeswoman for the SDC, a U.S.-financed group set up to promote democracy in Albania. ``We think he has a broken nose.'' The monitoring group also said a man in Berat had been shot at four times, although some of the shots may have been blanks. No details on the man's condition were available. The SDC could not confirm allegations by a Socialist Party member that he had been severely beaten by police, allegedly because he supported the Democrats' main rivals. In a news conference at Socialist Party headquarters on Sunday, 26-year-old Bilal Semanaj, the bodyguard of Socialist chief spokesman Kastriot Islami, showed reporters his heavily bruised back and thighs, which he said resulted from ferocious police beatings. In addition to allegations of physical attacks, opposition groups said they had been intimidated and their representatives frequently denied access to the electoral committees, which were set up to organise the poll and designed to include representatives from across the political spectrum. The SDC, which has election monitors across the small Balkan nation, confirmed that a Socialist member of the electoral committee in Lushnja, 100 km (60 miles) south of Tirana, had been barred from re-entering the polling station. In another polling station in Berat, voters had been harassed by gangs of thugs, the SDC said. ``People said they were afraid and had been threatened and intimidated by big men who told them whom to vote for,'' the SDC spokeswoman said. (Courtesy of Reuters)

    [04] Two More Parties Withdraw From Elections

    TIRANA, May 26 - Two more Albanian opposition parties joined the Socialists and center-right Democratic Alliance on Sunday, withdrawing from the post-communist state's third general election, according to Reuters. The center-left Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of the Right said they had pulled out of the election because they claimed the poll was illegal and the results would not be free and fair. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    This material was reprinted with permission of AlbAmerica Trade & Consulting International. For more information on ATCI and the Albanian Times, please write to AlbaTimes@aol.com

    Copyright © ATCI, 1996


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