- Title: ALBANIA/FILE: Opposition protests to demand vote recount
- Date: 1st May 2010
- Summary: GIRL HOLDING A BANNER, READING "OPEN THE BALLOT BOXES OR LEAVE"
- Embargoed: 16th May 2010 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA8S7HGC8TMIFWCLA5A1WUAERA
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of Albania's opposition Socialist Party supporters took to the streets on Friday (April 30) to demand a recount of votes from June's general election which they say was stolen.
Some 200 people including 22 members of the parliament have started a hunger strike.
One of the protesters was holding a banner that addressed to the Prime Minister Sali Berisha was reading: "Stop economic destruction and open the ballot boxes or leave."
The Socialists have been boycotting parliament since the June 28 election which gave the ruling Democratic Party a second mandate by the smallest margin in any election since the end of communism in Albania.
They have conditioned their full participation in parliament on a recount of the electoral ballots of the parliamentary poll.
The Socialists lost to Berisha in the tightest race since Albania abandoned communism, but have not accepted the result and refuse to enter parliament unless a number of ballot boxes, ruled "irregular" by election authorities, are opened.
"Today we have gathered here to open a new page on the book of this protest which will be an unstoppable sacrifice until the moment when road of transparencies of last elections is opened and the path of theft in next election is closed," Socialist leader Edi Rama told the crowd.
Western observers said the vote was an improvement on previous elections but had fallen short of the highest international standards. The vote count was delayed because of quarrels over breaches of procedure.
Berisha's Democrats and allies control 75 of parliament's 140 seats.
Ballot boxes considered to be "irregular" have not been reopened, to the anger of the Socialists who say a recount of those votes would prove they had won.
The protesters although have a permission from the police to protest for one day they plan to have a 12-days- long protest.
The party in power of the Prime Minister Berisha has announced that on 1st of May they plan to organize a concert which will be held on the same spot where opposition is protesting. Police said that they will increase their numbers to prevent any incidents.
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