Albanian parties begin campaigning for June vote

31st May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Brussels has also insisted that free and fair polls are of the utmost importance for Albania's European future.

Tirana -- Political parties in Albania have launched an electoral campaign for legislative polls to be held on June 28, seen as a major test for the new NATO member and EU candidate.

"These elections are particularly important for democracy in Albania and its integration into the European Union," Robert Bosch, representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission told AFP.

Brussels has also insisted that free and fair polls are of the utmost importance for Albania's European future.

"It is important for the elections to be free and fair, to respect international norms," said a statement issued after last week's meeting in Brussels, the first such held between the EU and Albania's representatives.

The Balkan former communist state, once notorious for secrecy, a gangster culture and corruption, took the first small step down the road towards joining the EU when it submitted its candidacy in April.

But, since the fall of communism in the early 1990s, all elections in Albania -- a predominantly Muslim nation of 3.6 million that remains one of Europe's poorest countries -- have been disputed and marred by incidents.

"We have made our choice: towards the European democracy," said Prime Minister Sali Berisha who has begun campaigning for his rightist Democratic Party to address its female members.

And his main opponent, opposition Socialist leader Edi Rama -- the mayor of Tirana -- told his supporters gathered in the capital's University district that the voters "will chose between the past and the European future on June 28."

Some 3.1 million voters will elect 140 deputies for the future parliament, choosing between 4,000 candidates representing 39 parties and political coalitions.

About 400 international observers will monitor June 28 elections, the OSCE said earlier this month.

AFP/Expatica

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