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Europe

Thousands of Albanians protest alleged election fraud

Tens of thousands of people rallied in the main square in Albania's capital on Friday, protesting the state of the economy and calling for a partial recount of ballots from last year's elections.

Albanian opposition supporters hold banners during a demonstration, in Tirana

Demonstrators vowed to stay on the streets until their demands are met

"The time of the resistance has come," Socialist leader Edi Rama told the crowd gathered in front of the Albanian government building in Tirana.

"We are determined to continue the protests and civil disobedience, to oblige the government either to be transparent in regard to the fraud-marked elections or to leave," he said.

Fatmir Xhasa, a Socialist deputy, told the protestors that 22 lawmakers would launch a hunger strike in front of the seat of government to demand election transparency.

The conservative Democrats, led by Prime Minister Sali Berisha, narrowly won the general elections on June 28 but have been hounded by allegations of vote-rigging ever since. In response, the opposition Socialists have staged a boycott, effectively stalling the government for months.

The Socialists returned to parliament in February, but still refuse to take part in any votes. They are calling for a recount of ballots in several voting districts, but the ruling government has rejected the demands as illegal.

The political deadlock has hindered Albania's EU ambitions – the country submitted its candidacy in April last year – and its plans to become part of the visa-free Schengen zone, which covers most of Europe.

cmk/AFP/AP

Editor: Toma Tasovac

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