One man was killed and three people were wounded in an apparently politically motivated shooting in Albania on Sunday during a crucial vote that could determine whether one of Europe’s poorest countries has a chance of joining the EU. The shootout in the northern town of Lac “might be related to the vote,” police spokeswoman Alma Katragjini told AFP without elaborating. The dead man was a 53-year old leftist opposition activist, said a source close to the Socialist-led coalition of former Tirana mayor Edi Rama, but this could not be independently confirmed. The source also said that one of the wounded was a candidate from the ruling Democratic party of conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who is seeking his third mandate to lead Albania after eight years in power.
Fears had been running high that vote disputes between supporters of Berisha and Rama could erupt into violence and around 6,000 police were on duty on Sunday to try to keep the peace.
Accusations of vote-buying and electoral roll irregularities were flying ahead of the election, raising concerns of a repeat of the 2009 polls which descended into a political crisis.
Having failed to deliver clean elections since the fall of communism two decades ago, Albania desperately needs to prove that it is able to hold fair polls that meet international standards if it is to have a shot at joining the EU.
Since the collapse of Enver Hoxha’s communist regime in 1990, polls in Albania have been marred by violence and allegations of vote-fixing.
And once again, as Albania’s 3.2 million voters began choosing lawmakers for the 140-seat assembly, the electoral system appears to be struggling to meet international standards.
Full Article: Deadly shootout mars Albania vote – Story | The Star Online.