Both sides claim election win as polls close in Albania | News | DW | 23.06.2013
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Both sides claim election win as polls close in Albania

The two major contenders in Albania's parliamentary elections have both said that they believe they have the upper hand. Voting was extended slightly longer than planned and no time has yet been set for official results.

Albania's ruling coalition and main opposition both said on Sunday that they had the upper hand in the country's parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha's center-right Democratic party and the Socialist party opposition led by Edi Rama were expected to engage in a close race.

"Our data says we won over the forces of destruction," Rama, once the mayor of Tirana, was quoted as saying by the news agency Reuters, shortly after the polls closed.

Democratic party politician Majinda Bregu told reporters a different story in the capital Tirana: "I assure you it is our full belief that Albanians voted convincingly for our alliance," Bregu said.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009 with roughly 3 million inhabitants, kept some polling stations open longer than planned due to long lines in some sites. Reporters in Tirana had observed voters lining up to cast their ballots before voting began.

It was unclear on Sunday when final results could be delivered. Three members of the country's electoral commission quit in April after a dispute between the government and the opposition. They have not yet been replaced. The commission's four-member team is too small, according to the country's constitution, to verify and issue results - but on the other hand, it is also legally obliged to reveal the results no later than three days after the vote.

Some 600 international monitors, including a team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), were in Tirana and other parts of the country for the election.

Voting day was overshadowed by news that a political activist linked with the opposition Socialists was shot dead in the city of Lac, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Tirana. Details were thin immediately after the shooting, with city police saying they did not want to comment on any link between the incident and the election before investigating the case.

msh/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)