Early elections of June 29 are launched after legislative elections of May 26, 1996 in which the Democratic party (DP) won the majority of 122 seats in a 140-seat parliament. These elections were contested by the Socialist party which gained only 10 seats.
Albania was obliged to hold early elections after rebellions and turmoil swept different parts of the country after the bankrupt of the fraudulent pyramid schemes in which thousands of families have deposited their savings.
The agreement reached between the president Sali Berisha and 10 political parties on March 9, 1997 foresaw the formation of a unity government and the holding of early elections within June.
Besides parliamentary elections a referendum will be held today on the form of governing.
The recent election campaign was launched in an atmosphere of tension, fear and threatening particularly against the candidates for deputy of the Democratic party in some areas in the South of Albania. Elections will be held on a majority-proportional system with 115 deputies to be directly elected through votes of the electorate and 40 others on proportional representation.
24 parties and 1,100 candidates compete in this electoral race.
Some of the parties are: Democratic party, Socialist party, National Front party, Republican party, Social Democrat party, Human Rights Union party, Legality Movement party, Democratic Alliance party, Christian Democrat party.
Political forces are included in three main grouping: "Unity for Democracy" (PD, PLL, PBSD, PBD, PDK), Albanian United Right-wing (PBK, PR, PLD, PBDK, PDD) and the left-wing coalition (PS, PSD and PAD).
115 constituencies are opened all over Albania.
There are 4,525 polling stations all over the country.
A big interest is shown for this elections which are held under the supervision of the international community. Some 580 observers of OSCE, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, European Parliament and other countries as well as various personalities are overseeing the elections on the ground.
Besides them, there are 2 400 observers of the Association for Democratic Culture and that of Human Rights.
Multinational forces of Alba mission are engaged in guaranteeing security for international observers.
Voting started at 7.00 a.m. and will close at 18.00 p.m. ak/e
Asked by an ATA journalist the chief of the police commissariat Astrit Demollari said that the policeman and the commission's members have left the polling station. Thus, the policeman was put under custody.
The commission of the constituency and the prefecture of Korca replaced the seal and stationary equipment to enable the elections start at 7.00 a.m.
No ballot paper or any other document was stolen besides the seal and the fluorescent light. ak/E
These observers are divided in groups of two who will be present in the opening of the polling stations and counting of votes. Each group is expected to oversee 10 to 12 polling stations.
A spokesman of the Spanish contingent said that 370 Spanish forces will accompany observers' groups in these districts and will guarantee their communications through radio. eva/ak/E
20 percent of the electorate has voted in Tirana, Shkodra, Lezha, Puka and Lushnja.
The election commissions in the northeastern Albania said that 15 percent of the voters have cast their votes and in Vlora the turnout has been normal. eva/ak/e
At the entrance of the eighth year school Jeronim De Rada where the polling station 56 is, President was welcomed enthusiastically by the inhabitants of the quarter, members and faithful of the Democratic party.
12 parties have presented their candidates in this polling station such as Democratic party, Socialist party, Democratic Alliance party, United Right-wing, Social Democrat party and others.
President Berisha calls on the Albanians to protect freedom, Albania's integrity and their future with their vote.
"I invite, especially, the Albanian youth not to lose this historical chance and defend their country, fate and future," Berisha said. ak/e
1. An unidentified person has taken away all the ballot papers in the constituency 32, polling station 29 in Rrashbull, Durres at 7.15 a.m. The police have been informed and the chief of police commissariat has gone there.
2. No ballot paper has arrived in and elections have not started yet in the constituency 24. The election authority has been informed and no official response is available yet on the opening of polling station.
3. The head of the polling station 17, constituency 38 in Shkozet, Durres, speaks in an arrogant tone. The DP faithful exert pressure on the commission and voters out of the polling station. Police have been informed and forces have been sent to return order.
4. All the necessary election documentation are present at the constituency 73 in Lushnja except the seals. The voting has not started yet and the chief of the commission is not there.
5. The Socialist and Social Democrat commissioner Faruk Murati was not allowed to enter the area of Baltez, Fier at 6.30 a.m. Head of the polling station declared the voting, which has not stated yet, closed.
6. Head of the polling station 19 of the constituency 77 in Fier is a police staff of 312 unit, Bujar Mernica. The OSCE observers have been informed on the case.
7. A group of people of the DP deputy Vasil Ndreko attacked the commissioners of a polling station in the constituency 81 in Fier at 8.30 p.m. ak/e
About 40 percent of the electorate has voted in the district of Korca until 12.00 p.m.
So far the voting are going well all over the country. The two main parties the Democrats and Socialist have presented protests to the election authority on irregularities seen in various areas of the country. Nevertheless the situation is calm and without tension. pas/ak/e
Kolai was inhabitant of Dervican village near Gjirokastra, and an Albanian citizens but of Greek nationality.
Sources of the police commissariat in Gjirokastra did not reveal the motives of the killings and excluded to some extent the possibility that someone out of the territory of the Consulate shot at him.
This is the second killing happened in the area of the Consulate after the tragic suicide of the Greek lieutenant Nikos Markaqis in the Greek Consulate in Gjirokastra a month ago. ak/E
"I would be very happy if the elections will be normal, regular and precise in the hours to come. The government, I am leading, manages at last to fulfil the main task assumed that of the early elections," Fino told journalists after voting.
"The elections are a very important moment and will promote democracy. At the end, we will see only winners and no losers. The smiling will be permanent for all Albanians whenever they are," Fino said. ak/E
"A French patrol of FMP went there but the two persons had gone. There were no OSCE observers there," Giovanni Bernardi said.
The OSCE office in Tirana said that so far there is no complete and precise report on the voting and possible incidents. pas/ak/E
Celo briefed the delegation of the work of Albanian police over the last months.
The situation continues to be disturbed in some towns in southern Albania, where some committees are ruling and police have not established control on the situation," said Celo.
Ms La Lumiere took interest in the measures of police to guarantee the electoral process conformed to the law and in the distribution of the ballots in some constituencies, where there were made mistakes and the ballots were reprinted. ssh/eva/xh/E
In 36 polling stations of constituency 15 where the SP organizational secretary, Namik Dokle, is a candidate, the voting started normally at the set hour, and they are continuing calmly and without any problem. The same with constituency 16 where the voting is going on normally.
In constituency 15 eight political subjects are competing, whereas in constituency 16, six political subjects and two independent candidates are in a race.
The chairmen of the election commissions of the two constituencies of Kukes and the chairmen of the political parties have remarks for lack of communication with all the polling stations, because the telephone lines are not functioning. pas/xh/
They were hit as supporters of DP. The DP branch in Drenove says that authors of the riot were members of an armed group of SP.
In some areas of the Korce district, socialist activists and armed gangs known by all people there as SP supporters, have carried out acts of terror.
In constituency 32 in Rrashbull of Durres, at 7.15 a.m., a SP activist grabbed a part of the ballots and left to an unknown direction. The members of the commission have identified the man as a relative of the family of Ilir Ceta, the person who made the attempt on the life of President Berisha in village Shkallnuer. In the mean time, measures have been taken to calm the situation but the grabbed ballots are not yet found.
In constituency 74 in Lushnje, a socialist activist named Ilir Myftiu, has attacked the chairman of the polling station 14. He threatened the election commission chairman that he would explode his home if he did not sign beforehand the protocol declaring Faslli Haliti, SP candidate, as winner of the constituency. SP in Lushnje has protested for this event, but the situation is still unclear.
In constituency 50 of Tirane, where in the race is Agim Fagu, common candidate of SP and SDP (the socialist candidate for the post of Tirana mayor in local poll of October 20, 1996) in the polling station 21, two armed people staying in the entrance of the polling stations exerted pressure on people who were queuing to vote. The inhabitans, who were worried and irritated by this act, said they were told that if they were not voting for SP they would not be left to come out alive from the polling station. xh/
So far, the voting process has been calm throughout the country. The two main parties, DP and SP have presented protests to CEC with regard to some irregularities noticed in various zones of the country, but nevertheless the situation in general is calm and without tensions.
The gravest case denounced was the killing last night with an firearm of the chairman of a polling station in constituency 76 of the district of Lushnje, where one of the main SP figures Arta Dade is a candidate. According to the DP protest, in some villages of this zone, the democrat chairmen of the election commissions have left because they are threatened or beaten and only socialist representatives have remained in the election commission. pas/xh/sh/
"DPA is greatly interested in today's elections and its election commission members in Vlore, despite terrible conditions of terror by Zani-Nano-Cupi, for the sake of democracy and in the name of the love for the future of the country, will appear to the election commissions but not to sign the shames of the shameless," says the DPA protest.
A candidate for SDP in the constituency 107 in Vlore is the chairman of the "public committee chairman" Albert Shyti. In the same constituency, after clarification in the Officials' Scrutiny Commission, candidating is also Frrok Cupi, independent candidate, whereas the candidacy of Zani Caushi, chairman of the armed gang who is making law in Vlore (as independent) has not been accepted by CEC. xh/sh/
The armed group has launched threats in more than 10 polling station and in the central election commission. Many commission members including the chairman have either received direct threats to leave the commission or to accept the turnout which would be offered to them.
The terror by the armed people is extending and the situation in the town of Shijak is going tense.
Along with the group of armed people there are also people supporting the candidate for deputy of the united right wing in Shijak. The DP candidate for deputy has been threatened with death in case he tries to leave the race," says the DP protest. kled/xh/sh/
The gang from Cerrik has exerted pressure today in electors to vote for SP in the commune of Shale and in four polling stations in the constituency of Belsh /kled/xh/sh/
In constituency 49, the polling station 6 in Tirane, the brother of Ekrem Kastrati, General Secretary of the Council of Ministers, who is the election commission chairman caused quarrels by threatening the voters. Police did not intervene.
There was confusion in the polling stations 14 and 20 and public order forces did not intervene.
In the polling stations 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 of constituency 19 in Lezhe, a group of Legality Movement supporters have ruined the voting process by throwing demonstratively the ballots without taking into account the interference of the commissions. They are carrying out the same act in other polling stations of that constituency. Police have not interfered although they have been informed. xh/sh/