Skip to comments.Albanians Vote in Key Test of Transition
Posted on 07/03/2005 12:48:51 PM PDT by Wiz
TIRANA, Albania - Albanians chose a new parliament on Sunday in elections that mark a crucial step in the tiny Balkan country's push for closer ties with Europe, but local observers raised concerns over voting procedures in rural areas.
Previous elections in Albania, which was sealed off from the world during decades of communist rule that ended in 1990, have been plagued by fraud and irregularities. Sunday's voting is being watched as a test of the impoverished nation's ability to hold a fair election.
Both NATO and the European Union have warned Albanian authorities that only free and fair elections will further its bid for membership in the organizations. The United States has said the poll will be a major milestone in Albania's transformation into a fully democratic European country.
"This is an opportunity we should seize because we have lost much time ... to show we are part of Europe," Albanian President Alfred Moisiu said after casting his ballot.
Local monitors said they were investigating reports of voting without identification documents, mainly in rural areas, as well as multiple voting and voting in groups, monitor Pjerin Marku said.
Moisiu appealed to political parties to exercise restraint and avoid making any announcements before polls close.
"That could damage the counting process and consequently the elections' final result," Moisiu said in a statement.
The observers appealed to political parties not to raise tensions.
The vote is being monitored by about 500 international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and a European network of non-governmental organizations. About 4,000 local monitors are also taking part.
The main contenders Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano and his rival, Sali Berisha, a former president and leader of the Democratic Party have stressed the election is a chance to show the world how far Albania's democracy has come. Pre-election polls show the two parties in a tight race.
Both the Socialists and Democrats back close ties with Washington and Albanian troop deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. Integration in NATO and the EU is supported by both as well.
A key difference is the Democratic Party's proposal to cut taxes in half to promote investment, an idea the Socialists reject.
Some 2.8 million Albanians were eligible to vote, choosing from 22 political parties and coalitions running for the 140-seat parliament.
Official results were not expected until late Monday.
Television station TV Klan was expected to release the only exit poll the first such survey for elections in Albania.
The poll will be conducted by the Kosovo-based Gani Bobi organization, which in the past has conducted media monitoring, surveys and other research, but not exit polls. Gani Bobi said the poll will be based on 8,000 interviews in 450 polling stations.
Albanian police chief Bajram Ibraj said 6,350 police officers have been deployed throughout the country to prevent clashes between rival supporters and protect ballot boxes.
Dasantila Bejko, a 35-year-old economist, was among the first to vote in a downtown polling station in the capital, Tirana. She said she hoped the vote would help ease poverty in a country fighting double-digit unemployment.
"This vote will not bring about any great difference to my life," Bejko said. "But it ought to make a difference for the poor, no matter who comes to power."
Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10% (CIA Fact Book)
I think Turkey will be the first, but it is possible that both countries will join together.
Well, that last quote was from this article. My bad.
I was aware of the Pro-American stance but not the heritage aspect. - Thank you
Actually, I believe that the "70% Moslem" statistics date from the 1930s. A LOT has happened since then. In fact, I believe that Moslems are nowadays more around the 30% or so range. Also, the only reason why Albania has a Moslem heritage, was the Ottoman Turks invaded and conquered it. I don't know if ALbania really is the most pro-US state in Europe, what with Poland and most of the rest of Eastern Europe in general.
I'd say that given that is where Saint Theresa of Calcutta came from, that Catholics are closer to the majority of the population (whether by heritage or practice)...
Originally, I believe that about half of Albanians are-at least originally-of Catholic heritage, and the other half Orthodox. About half of Albanian Albanians are Ghegs, which Mother Teresa was,and who were Catholic, and the other half are Tosks, who were Orthodox.
"The countries that register the highest percentage in support to the U.S. are Albania with 95%, Kosovo with 89%, Israel with 84% and Afghanistan with 80%."
Chris Steven, "Bin Laden opens European terror base in Albania," Sunday Times (London), Nov. 15, 1998
"Socially organized in extended families bound together in clan alliances, Kosovar Albanians dominate the Albanian mafia in the southern Balkans. Other than Kosovo, the Albanian mafia is also active in northern Albania and western Macedonia. In this context, the so-called 'Balkan Medellin' is made up of a number of geographically connected border towns . . . . If left unchecked, this growing Albanian narco-terrorism could lead to a Colombian syndrome in the southern Balkans, or the emergence of a situation in which the Albanian mafia becomes powerful enough to control one or more states in the region. In practical terms, this will involve either Albania or Macedonia, or both. Politically, this is now being done by channelling growing foreign exchange (forex) profits from narco-terrorism into local governments and political parties. In Albania, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) led by President Sali Berisha is now widely suspected of tacitly tolerating and even directly profiting from drug-trafficking for wider politico-economic reasons, namely the financing of secessionist political parties and other groupings in Kosovo and Macedonia."
"The Balkan Medellin," Jane's 3/1/95; Albanian then-president Berisha lost power in 1997 and is now a known KLA patron in northern Albania.
Nice friends...!!!!...Don't ya think...???
The International Criminal Police Organization - INTERPOL - Written Testimony of Ralf Mutschke - Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol: "The Threat Posed by the Convergence of Organized Crime, Drugs Trafficking and Terrorism"
What are you? Supporter of the Socialist Party?
Do you also believe that Russia was funding the Al Qaida with Iran?
However, late at night, when none of his Serb cousins are around, he clicks onto Condi Rice's State Department site and mutters to himself as he reads excerpts like these:
Albania has been a steadfast supporter of U.S. policy in Iraq, and one of only four nations to contribute troops to the combat phase of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Albania enjoys friendly and cooperative bilateral relations with the U.S. Pro-U.S. sentiment is widespread among the population.
Albania has wholeheartedly supported the U.S. in the global war on terrorism, by freezing terrorist assets, shutting down suspect Islamic NGOs, expelling Islamic extremists, and providing military and diplomatic support for the U.S.-led actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
.. Albanian peacekeepers are part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
[Albania] has played a constructive role in resolving several of the inter-ethnic conflicts in south central Europe, promoting peaceful dispute resolution and discouraging ethnic-Albanian extremists.
dj animal, don't disappoint me--post that Rumsfeld picture you like to show.
Never was and never will be....!!!!...I see myself as "Independent" in Serbia...Here in the USA I voted for the "Republicans"....
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