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Albanians Vote in Local Elections

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TEHRAN, May 8 (ICANA) – Albanians are voting in local elections seen as a test of the country's stability, despite the deadly clashes between oppositions and police less than four months ago.
Sunday, May 08, 2011 2:23:40 PM
Albanians Vote in Local Elections

More than three-million Albanians are eligible to vote on Sunday for municipal councils and mayors, who have promised more jobs, tax cuts and better transport facilities.

A fierce competition is expected in the capital Tirana which sees Socialist leader and three-time mayor Edi Rama running for re-election against former Interior Minister Lulzim Basha.

"[Albanians should] cast the ballots calmly and peacefully and therefore also contribute in rendering tribute to democracy," the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ambassador Eugen Wollfarth was quoted as saying by AP.

Preliminary results are expected on Monday, according to central electoral authorities.

Hundreds of international observers will be monitoring the election.

The election campaign was marred by a violent anti-government rally in January that left four protesters dead.

Protesters had asked for early elections even though the next elections were planned for 2013.

The unrest has triggered a heated dispute between the opposition and the ruling parties.

The opposition and the ruling coalition government have been at loggerheads since the 2009 general election.

Rama's party, in the past two years, has boycotted the parliament, staged a hunger strike and organized street protests.

Basha has rejected calls for his governing Democrats to resign over corruption allegations and vote-rigging in elections two years ago.

Albania, which is one of Europe's poorest countries, is seeking to join the European Union, but the 27-nation bloc has said the country has not yet done enough to root out corruption.

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