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Albanians Vote in Local Elections - 2003-10-12

Albanians are voting Sunday in elections to choose new mayors and other local officials.

Candidates representing 60 political parties are on the ballot for local offices in 76 towns and more than 300 municipalities. However, the strongest candidates in most races are expected to come from two groups - the ruling Socialist Party of Prime Minister Fatos Nano and the opposition Democratic Party led by former President Sali Berisha.

Analysts say the election is a test of Albania's fragile democracy. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is monitoring the voting.

Polls are scheduled to close at 7:00 p.m. local time (1700 UTC).