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Albanian Times, 96-05-29

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 29, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] Police Crushes Opposition Protest
  • [02] Austrian Observer Says Albanian Poll Fair
  • [03] Eleven OSCE Observers Criticize Elections
  • [04] Italy's Dini Worried by Albania Events
  • [05] State Department Concerned Over Situation

  • [01] Police Crushes Opposition Protest

    TIRANA, May 28 - Albanians in the capital Tirana said the sight of riot police moving into the city's central square to quash an opposition demonstration on Tuesday reminded them of scenes not witnessed since the fall of communism. Witnesses said several hundred police, some of them in plain clothes, prevented opposition leaders and supporters from gathering in Skanderbeg Square to vent their anger about general elections they said were a sham. Riot police were seen indiscriminately beating protesters, among them many women. Scores of demonstrators and foreign journalists sought shelter in the nearby Tirana International Hotel, where opposition leaders, among them the key Socialists, hastily convened a news conference to denounce the violence. Minutes after police had dispersed the crowd, traffic resumed. Some drivers were seen waving the Democratic Party's blue banner and flashing the victory sign. More than 200 Socialist supporters were packed into their party headquarters nearby the square, locked in by riot police and closely watched by plain-clothes officers tryi ng to prevent a second demonstration. In a statement carried on national television and the state news agency, the interior ministry claimed opposition groups had violently opposed police orders to clear the square. The statement said nobody had been injured during the protests. Democratic Party leaders had warned in advance that any illegal gathering would be crushed. "This country is ruled by law and the law will have to be obeyed if they support the rule of law," Albert Brojka, the Party's secretary for international affairs said. President Berisha urged Albanians to maintain calm and accused the Socialist Party Secretary General Gramoz Ruci of seeking to destabilise the situation. Mr. Ruci has been a former Interior Minister under President Ramiz Alia. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [02] Austrian Observer Says Albanian Poll Fair

    VIENNA, May 28 - An observer for Europe's conservatives declared that Albanian elections had been fair despite claims by other groups that the poll fell short of international standards. Wolfgang Grossruck, a member of Austria's ruling People's Party (OeVP), said he spent a full week in Albania to observe the elections for the European Democratic Union (EDU), which groups 40 conservative and Christian democratic parties. ``I am satisfied that there were no incidents in the areas I visited,'' Grossruck said on his return to Vienna. Grossruck's remarks contradicted earlier statements by the European Union and some members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Grossruck said he and a Greek colleague from the EDU had visited some 20 polling stations in Tirana and the surrounding area. ``I did not see anything to suggest (the election) was not correct,'' Grossruck concluded. He said it was evident prior to the poll that the opposition Socialists would challenge the result. OeVP Gen eral Secretary Othmar Karas backed Grossruck's findings and described the poll outcome as a victory for democracy and market reform. The OeVP said a turnout of 80 percent was a sign of a healthy democracy and praised Berisha for leading Albania out of four decades of communist rule. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [03] Eleven OSCE Observers Criticize Elections

    TIRANA, May 28 - British and Norwegian members of a European observer mission monitoring Albania's general election last weekend said on Tuesday the vote did not meet international standards for free and fair elections. The 11 British and Norwegian members of a 50-strong Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mission issued a statement with their criticisms. The other observers refrained from comment. There have been no official results for Sunday's poll, but President Sali Berisha has claimed a landslide victory of over 60 percent for his ruling Democratic Party. The British and Norwegian statement said: ``It is our conclusion that the will of the Albanian people was not expressed in a free manner in the elections of May 26, 1996,'' It said they could not speak on behalf of the OSCE as a whole, which will issue its official election report on Wednesday in Vienna. The 11 observers said many other OSCE monitors agreed with the statement but had not wanted to sign the report. It said one problem was that key positions at all levels of election commissions, set up to organise the vote, were occupied by the ruling party. ``Ballots cast were altered and invalidated,'' the statement said. ``In many cases the number of ballots cast exceeded the number of signatures on the voters lists.'' It said the number of void votes was sometimes extremely high, reaching up to 50 percent. ``In some cases ballots bundled together inside the boxes indicated that the boxes had been tampered with and votes added,'' the statement said. ``Observers also witnessed cases of beatings and threats.'' Senior members of the observer group said the mission was pulling out before a second round of voting due on June 2. Opposition Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka said Europe should send thousands of official observers to a new election that opposition parties want called. ``It is cheaper for Europe to send in 3,000 official observers than to bring in 15,000 soldiers later,'' Ceka said. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [04] Italy's Dini Worried by Albania Events

    ROME, May 28 - Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said on Tuesday he was worried by events in Albania after last weekend's general election, but added that it was too early to decide what to do about the situation. Earlier, British and Norwegian members of a European observer mission monitoring the election said that the vote did not meet international standards for free and fair elections. "We are certainly worried by the actions we have seen after the results of this election,'' Dini told reporters. He said Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, was waiting for a full report from the international monitors and added that he was in close contact with the Albanian authorities. ``We will look at the situation before taking any official steps,'' he said. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [05] State Department Concerned Over Situation

    WASHINGTON, May 28 - The U.S. Department of State has expressed concern over the recent developments in Albania and has called on the government and the opposition to show restraint. A State Department spokesman said Tuesday he was not able to comment on the impact the decision of the Socialist party to withdraw from the elections could have. He also expressed concern over police violence on opposition members on Tuesday. He urged the Albanian government and all the political parties to take the necessary steps to solve their disagreement in a peaceful and orderly manner. (Albanian Times)

    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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