ALBANIA: OPPOSITION SOCIALISTS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF VOTE RIGGING AND VIOLENCE/ PRESIDENT SALI BERISHA SAYS HIS NATION IS DEMOCRATIC
ALBANIA: OPPOSITION SOCIALISTS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF VOTE RIGGING AND VIOLENCE/ PRESIDENT SALI BERISHA SAYS HIS NATION IS DEMOCRATIC
- Title: ALBANIA: OPPOSITION SOCIALISTS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF VOTE RIGGING AND VIOLENCE/ PRESIDENT SALI BERISHA SAYS HIS NATION IS DEMOCRATIC
- Date: 30th May 1996
- Summary: TIRANA, ALBANIA (MAY 30-31, 1996) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) (MAY 30, 1996) 1. GV AREA AROUND SKANDERBEG SQUARE IN CENTRAL TIRANA (2 SHOTS) 0.11 2. GV NEWSPAPER VENDOR SITTING BY HIS NEWSPAPERS 0.18 3. GV BEGGAR LYING IN STREET 0.30 4. GV FOUNTAIN AND BUILDING IN MAIN SQUARE 0.44 5. GV PEOPLE SITTING NEAR FOUNTAIN IN SQUARE (2 SHOTS) 1.00 6. GV MAN STANDING BY CAR WITH POLICE OFFICIAL 1.05 7. GV CHILDREN ON MERRY GO ROUND IN FRONT OF STATUE 1.18 8. GV EXTERIOR OF BOOKSHOP 1.31 9. GV TODDLER IN CARDBOARD BOX AS PEOPLE PASS BY (2 SHOTS) 1.53 10. GV GV/GV TILT UP EXTERIOR SOCIALIST PARTY OF ALBANIA (SPA) HEADQUARTERS WITH PARTY FLAGS AND POSTERS OF PARTY PRESIDENT FATOS NANA (2 SHOTS) 2.15 11. GV PARTLY BURNED VOTING FORMS WITH VOTES FOR SPA WHICH HAD BEEN FOUND IN VLORA LYING ON TABLE (VOICE OF PARTY OFFICIAL SPEAKING ENGLISH) 2.25 12. GV PAN/GV PARTLY BURNED VOTING FORMS TO PARTY OFFICIAL SPEAKING (ENGLISH) (2 SHOTS) 2.56 13. GV PARTLY BURNED VOTING FORMS ON TABLE PAN TO PARTY OFFICIAL SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 3.46 14. GV ZOOM IN ILIR META, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF SPA AND HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS OF THE SPA SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 5.03 15. GVS ILIR META STANDING SMOKING AND JOKING (2 SHOTS) 5.16 16. SCU ILIA META SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 6.36 17. GVS/GV PANS LOBBY OF SOCIALIST PARTY HEADQUARTERS WITH SPA SUPPORTERS SHOUTING "WE LOVE FATOS NANA", "O SALI, THIEF OF VOTES WHERE HAVE YOU PUT THEM?", "NO TO DICTATORSHIP", "SOCIALIST PARTY", AND HOLDING UP NEWSPAPER ARTICLES WITH PHOTOGRAPHS OF BARDHOK LALA, AN ALBANIAN JOURNALIST BEATEN UP BY POLICE AFTER OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONS (5 SHOTS) 8.18 18. GV EXTERIOR OF HOUSE OF BARDHOK LALA, AN ALBANIAN JOURNALIST BEATEN UP BY POLICE AFTER OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONS ON MAY 28, 1996 8.28 19. GV LALA SHOWING BRUISES ON HIS BACK FROM BEATING (2 SHOTS) 8.42 20. CU PULL OUT LALA'S FACE WITH BRUISES AND BLOODSHOT EYES 9.01 21. GV LALA SITS DOWN ON BED AND MOTIONS THAT HIS LEGS HAD BEEN BEATEN AS WELL 9.17 22. SV LALA SAYING THIS IS A POLITICAL VIOLATION NOT ONLY AGAINST ME BUT ALSO AGAINST ALL THE ALBANIAN PRESS. THIS IS A SIGNAL THAT ALL THE PRESS ARE IN DANGER (ALBANIAN) 10.01 23. GVS LALA PUTTING ON PYJAMA TOP WITH HELP (2 SHOTS) 10.24 24. GV LALA HOLDING UP EDITION OF THE NEWSPAPER FOR WHICH HE SAYS HE WORKS WHICH SHOWS FRONT PAGE PHOTOGRAPHS OF LALA'S INJURIES 10.44 25. GV STREET SCENE 10.51 26. GV ARTE DADE, MEMBER OF SPA PRESIDENCY AND SPA CANDIDATE FOR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AT HER DESK IN SPA BUILDING 10.58 27. SV ARTE DADE SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 13.33 28. SV ARTE DADE WRITING AT DESK 13.42 29. SV ARTE DADE SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 14.09 30. GV ARTE DADE WALKS DOWN STEPS IN SPA BUILDING 14.14 31. GV ARTE DADE AND OTHER OFFICIALS AT SPA MEETING (3 SHOTS) 14.48 (MAY 31, 1996) 32. GV EXTERIOR SPA SPD HEADQUARTERS 14.56 33. GV SOCIALIST PARTY PLAQUE 15.05 34. GVS PEOPLE PUT UP POSTERS RELATING TO OPPOSITION HUNGER STRIKE (4 SHOTS) 15.36 35. GVS HUNGER STRIKERS RESTING, READING NEWSPAPERS (6 SHOTS) 16.26 36. GVS MAN ASLEEP ON FLOOR 16.33 37. GV OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN POINTING OUT BUILDING FROM WHERE HE SAYS SECURITY FORCES HAVE BEEN OBSERVING HIS PARTY OFFICIALS MOVEMENTS (ENGLISH) 16.45 38. GV VIEW OF BUILDING FROM WHERE OPPOSITION PARTY OFFICIAL HAS SAID SECURITY FORCES HAVE BEEN SPYING ON HIS PARTY'S OFFICIALS 16.56 39. GV TILT DOWN POLICEMAN WALKING ALONG ROAD 17.04 40. GV SOCIALIST PARTY WALL WITH PLAQUE 17.09 41. GV SOCIALIST OFFICIALS READ PAPERS AT SEATS IN MEETING ROOM 17.29 42. GV PEOPLE LOOK AT NEWSPAPER STAND 17.35 43. SV ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SALI BERISHA SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 18.33 44. GV BERISHA SEATED 18.37 45. GV BERISHA SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 18.55 46. GV BERISHA SEATED 19.01 (MAY 30, 1996) 47. GV TODDLER IN CARDBOARD BOX ON PAVEMENT BESIDE TAXI 19.06 TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCES 11, 12 AND 13, SOCIALIST PARTY OFFICIAL: "OUR SYMPATHISERS MANAGED TO GET THESE. THEY HAVE SET FIRE TO THEM AND PUT ...BECAUSE YOU KNOW THESE BOXES FROM THE POLICE STATIONS WERE TRANSPORTED BY THE POLICE JUST OPEN WITHOUT BEING CLOSED AND WITHOUT BEING SEALED. THIS IS ONE FACT WHICH TESTIFIES TO WHAT I AM SAYING. SO THIS IS ONE OF THE TRICKS THAT IS USED WHICH SHOWS CLEARLY THAT THE SOCIALIST CANDIDATE HAS DISAPPEARED, MANY OF THEM, AND THEY USED ALL KINDS OF TRICKS TO DO THAT. SO THIS IS ONLY A PART OF THE ONES WHICH OUR SYMPATHISERS MANAGED TO FIND IN VLORA. AND TODAY WE HAVE A STATEMENT BY INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS ACCORDING TO EOrH IT IS TESTIFIED THAT MANY BOXES WITH THE LIST OF BALLOTS WERE TRANSPORTED BY THE POLICE OPEN WITHOUT CLOSED, AND WITHOUT BEING SEALED ACCORDING TO THE LAW. AS YOU KNOW THE POLICE GETS THEM SEALED, CLOSED AND IN THE CENTRAL COMMISSION THEN THEY ARE OPENED, THEY ARE COUNTED, SO THIS IS THE LAW, THIS IS VERY CLEAR MANIPULATION." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 14, ILIR META: AS IT IS KNOW THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF ALBANIA TOGTHER WITH OTHER OPPOSITION PARTIES FROM THE RIGHT TO THE LEFT WITHDRAW FROM THE ELECTIONS OF 26TH OF MAY, ANNOUNCING THESE ELECTIONS AS MANIPULATIVE, VIOLENT AND ACCUSING THE GOVERNMENT AND THE HIGHEST AUTHORITIES IN THE COUNTRY FOR USING THE FORCE, THE POLICE AND THE SECRET POLICE TO CHANGE THE RESULT. OUR PARTY DOES RECOGNISE THE ELECTIONS OF 26TH OF MAY, AND TOGETHER WITH OTHER OPPOSITION PARTIES WE ASK FOR NEW ELECTIONS AND THREE, AND TAKING CARE OF EUROPEAN COUNCIL OF EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE THIS GOVERNMENT PROVED THAT IS NOT ABLE TO PREPARE FOR FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 16, ILIR META: IN MANY DISTRICTS WE WERE INFORMED THAT MORNING THAT OUR MEMBERS, OUR REPRESENTATIVES IN THE COMMISSIONS AT THE POLLING STATIONS WERE REMOVED BY THE POLICE AND BY THE SECRET POLICE AND IN MANY OTHERS THERE WERE NOT PROTOCOLS FOR EACH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PARTIES, BUT ONLY FOR REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT AND OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, AND IN MANY CASES THE POLICE USED OPENLY TERROR AGAINST THE VOTERS AND IN SOME CASES WERE BEATEN THE CANDIDATES FOR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND IN SUCH A SITUATION WHICH WAS EVIDENT NOT ONLY FOR US BUT ALSO FOR FOREIGN OBSERVERS, AFTER WE CONSULTED WITH OTHER OPPOSITION PARTIES AND WE SHARED THE SAME OPINION WITH THEM, WE DECIDED TO WITHDRAW FROM THE ELECTIONS BEFORE TO BE CLOSED THE POLLING STATIONS AND TO START COUNTING PERCENTS BECAUSE WE COULD NOT BE COLLABORATORS WITH THIS REGIME IN THIS ELECTION POLLS." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 27, ARTE DADE: "OK, YOU KNOW BY NOW WHAT HAPPENED IN ALBANIA. AND THE WHOLE OF EUROPE AND THE WORLD KNOWS ABOUT THE DAY OF ELECTIONS. AND THE POLITICAL FORCES OF THE OPPOSITION RETIRED BECAUSE OF THE IRREGULARITIES, BECAUSE OF THE INTIMIDATION AND BECAUSE OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL VIOLENCE EXERCISED ON THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSIONS AT THE POLLING STATIONS, MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSIONS BELONGING TO THE PARTIES OF THE OPPOSITION. NOW TO OBJECT TO THE RESULT OF THE ELECTIONS AND DECLARING THAT WE DID NOT RECOGNISE THE RESULT OF THIS ELECTIONS WE PARTICIAPTED IN THE DEMONSTRATION ON MAY 28TH AT THE SKANDERBEG WHICH IS THE MAIN SQUARE IN TIRANA, OUR CAPITAL. WE WERE THERE TOGETHER, ALL THE FORCES OF THE OPPOSITION, AND OUR ELECTORATE WHO SUPPORTED US DURING THE CAMPAIGN AND WHO OBJECTED TO THE RESULT. BUT AT THE MOMENT THAT WE REACHED THE SKANDERBEG SQUARE WE MET THE TERRIBLE VIOLENCE OF THE WHO STATE MACHINERY, OF THE POLICE FORCES OF THE FORCES OF THE SECRET POLICE AND OF THE RIOT POLICE WHO, I BELIEVE, AND IT IS A FACT THAT THEY, TO THE LEVEL OF FIFTY PERCENT ARE ORDINARY CRIMINALS WHO ARE AND EVEN KILLERS SOMETIMES WHO HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM PRISON BY BERISHA, THE PRESIDENT, AND BERISHA USES THEM AGAINST ALBANIANS. A NUMBER OF THEM, FROM THE DIALECT WE COULD NOTICE THAT THEY WERE PEOPLE COMING FROM KOSOVO PERHAPS, WHO HAVE BEEN ALSO JUST FAVOURED TO STAY IN ALBANIA AND WE DON'T OBJECT TO THAT BECAUSE THEY ARE OUR BROTHERS, THEY ARE ALBANIANS, BUT BERISHA USES THEM AGAINST ALBANIANS LIVING WITHIN THE TERRIITORY. SO THIS IS UNPARDONABLE BECAUSE BERISHA HAS ALSO SPOILT OUR NATIONAL ISSUE BY INCITING ALBANIANS AGAINST ALBANIANS. ALL THE LEADERS OF THE OPPOSITION HAVE BEEN BEATEN BLACK AND BLUE AND YOU CAN NOTICE AND SEE BRUISES ON THEIR BACKS ON THEIR ARMS AND LEGS, AND EVEN ME, YES YOU CAN SEE THAT I HAVE BEEN BEATEN, BUT OF COURSE, IF YOU LIKE I MAY JUST SHOW YOU MY BODY, BUT YOU KNOW, WE WOMEN HAVE NOT THIS PRIVILEGE AS MEN." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 29, ARTE DADE: "YESTERDAY, I DON'T KNOW WHETHER YOU FOLLOWED THE FUNERAL OF A 24-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO WAS AN ACTIVIST OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY DURING THE CAMPAIGN, WHO HAD BEEN KILLED IN THE NIGHT, WELL, LATE IN THE EVENING THE DAY WE HAD THAT DEMONSTRATION IN TIRANA, SO THIS SHOWS THAT IN ALBANIA A NEW DICTATORSHIP HAS BEEN INSTALLED, AND BERISHA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 37, SOCIALIST PARTY OFFICIAL: "FROM THIS BUILDING THE SECRET SERVICES ARE CONTROLLING US FOR MANY DAYS, ESPECIALLY AFTER THE ELECTIONS." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 43, SALI BERISHA: " I MUST SAY, AND I'D LIKE TO ASSURE MY FRIENDS EVERYWHERE AND THOSE WHO ARE VERY SUPPORTATIVE TO ALBANIA THAT DEMOCRACY IN ALBANIA IT IS AN INNER, VITAL DIMENSION OF ALBANIANS AND ALBANIA AND ALBANIAN SOCIETY. THAT IS DEFINITELY. I AM GRATEFUL TO THOSE WHO ASSISTED AND ASSIST AND I WILL BE VERY OPEN, BUT AT THE SAME TIME I HAVE TO EMPHASISE IT IS DEFINITELY A VERY INNER VITAL FACTOR FOR THIS NATION, FOR THIS COUNTRY FOR THIS SOCIETY. ON THE OTHER HAND I NEVER COULD PREFER TO HAVE PARLIAMENTARIANS WHICH DO NOT DESERVE TO BE IN THE ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT BY NOT HAVING THE REAL VOTES. FAIRNESS IS FAIRNESS , THERE IS NO DOUBT ON THAT." TRANSCRIPT SEQUENCE 45, SALI BERISHA: "THEY HAVE NO REASON TO BOYCOTT. I AM VERY SAD ABOUT THEIR DECISION AND I INVITE THEM. I INVITE THEM TO JOIN, THEIR SEATS WILL BE OPEN ALWAYS AND I'D LIKE TO ASSURE THEM THAT I WILL HAVE A VERY CONSTRUCTIVE AND A VERY STRONG DIALOGUE WITH THEM." Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 14th June 1996 13:00
- Location: TIRANA, ALBANIA
- Country: Albania
- Reuters ID: LVAF45PR0J9DQ0KTDRK61V2XZCQK
- Story Text: Politicians of Albania's main opposition party, the Socialist Party, on Thursday (May 30) cited irregularities that were also noted by European observers as their reason for pulling out the nation's first round of elections on May 26, 1996, A Socialist election official showed journalists partly burned voting papers, which he said served as evidence of vote rigging. He said foreign observers had noticed that police had not transported the voting papers for some of the voters of Vlora in sealed boxes.
By law, the ballot papers had to be put into sealed containers.
Vice-President of the Socialist Party and the head of its International Affairs Section, Ilir Meta said his party and other opposition parties had decided to withdraw from the elections because the poll was manipulative and violent. He said security forces had been used to influence the result of the poll. In some districts Socialist Party representatives were removed from the scene by police, who beat parliamentary candidates and intimidated voters.
At a rally on Tuesday (May 28) in Skanderbeg Square in central Tirana, opposition members demanded a rerun of the poll. Witnesses said they were beaten up by security forces.
Socialist Party committee members and parliamentary candidate Arte Dade said she was among opposition politicians beaten at the opposition rally in Skanderbeu Square in central Tirana on May 28.
Arte said the Albanian government was employing criminals and Albanians from Kosovo in former Yugoslavia to intimidate Albanians.
She made reference to a 24-year-old Socialist Party activist who had been killed shortly after the polls, and said a new dicatorship had been installled in Albania, and President Sali Berisha was to blame for it.
Also on Tuesday (May 28), Bardhok Lala, a journalist with the Dita Informacion newspaper, said he was seized and beaten up by four plain-clothes men who introduced themselves as staff of the National Intelligence Service. He said the attack on him signaled danger for all members of the media.
Socialists were among opposition politicians to go on hunger strike on May 31 to protest against the elections. One Socialist Party official said Albanian secret services were watching the Socialist Party headquarters from a building across the road.
Albanian President Sali Berisha on May 31 denied there had been any voting irregularities. He said democracy was an "inner, vital dimension" of Albanians. He said he would never wish to see parliamentarians receive seats they had not won fairly. Berisha expressed regret that opposition parliamentarians who had won seats in the parliament had not taken them up.
Berisha's ruling Democratic Party won 67 percent of the vote in the first round of elections on May 26, surpassing the 62 percent of the elections it won in the last poll in 1992.
Socialists, the successors to the communists who ruled Albania for almost half a century before the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, refused to take up the five seats which the Central Electoral Commission said they had won in the first round of the election.
Eleven British and Norwegian members of a 50-strong Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe team monitoring the elections said vote did not meet international standards for free and fair elections. Other members of the team withheld comment.
Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano has been in prison since 1994, when he was convicted on charges of embezzlement during his brief period as prime minister in 1991.
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