Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Albania's hunger strikers demand recount votes

Hunger-strikers demanding a recount nearly a year after a parliamentary election in Albania.

Camped out in white tents, 22 lawmakers and 200 backers of the opposition Socialist Party have brought their protest to the door of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and are blocking the wide avenue below his office.

The 12-day-old fast extends a stalemate between government and the opposition that has dragged on since the election on June 28, 2009, defying efforts by EU leaders to find a solution.

"We will fight with no pause until we reach our goal," opposition leader Edi Rama, who is also Tirana's mayor, told Reuters. "We'll not stop until we get something that is so elementary for every normal democracy."

Rama lost the race for prime minister in a close contest with the incumbent Berisha, Albania's dominant political figure since the fall of Communism in 1990.

International observers had hoped it would be Albania's first free and fair contest, marking clear progress for a country that is already in NATO and has applied to join the EU."The country's process was a real disgrace," said one diplomat this week. "Of course, there has been cheating."

The stand-off has impacted the country's bond rating and the perceptions of investors.

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