News / Europe

Albanian PM Concedes Defeat, Soothes Fears of Dispute

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha concedes defeat in front of Democratic party supporters in Tirana, June 26, 2013.Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha concedes defeat in front of Democratic party supporters in Tirana, June 26, 2013.
x
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha concedes defeat in front of Democratic party supporters in Tirana, June 26, 2013.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha concedes defeat in front of Democratic party supporters in Tirana, June 26, 2013.
Reuters
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha conceded defeat on Wednesday after losing a parliamentary election over the weekend, ending three days of public silence and soothing fears of a messy handover of power in the volatile NATO country.
 
The concession speech to supporters in downtown Tirana clears the way for the capital's former mayor and leader of the opposition Socialist Party, Edi Rama, to take power after a landslide victory on Sunday.
 
Berisha waited until almost the very last ballot paper was counted to appear in public, raising concern in the West that he might dispute the result.
 
His concession will be taken as a suggestion of growing democratic maturity in the Adriatic nation, which has been rocked by repeated bouts of political unrest since the fall of communist rule in 1991. A smooth handover would help revive Albania's stalled bid to join the European Union.
 
“Accepting the result of the elections, I wish the opponent good luck,” Berisha said at his party headquarters.
 
“We lost this election and all responsibility for the loss falls only on one person, me,” he said, to cries of “No, no!” from the party faithful.
 
Supporters of 48-year-old Rama drove through central Tirana, honking horns and waving the flags of his Socialist Party.
 
With votes counted from 99 percent of polling stations, the opposition alliance was poised to take 84 of parliament's 140 seats, well ahead of Berisha's Democrats on 56.

‘Not a farewell’

Albania's dominant political figure since the end of more than four decades of Stalinist rule in 1991, Berisha was credited with taking Albania into NATO in 2009 and onto the first rung of EU membership. But his opponents accuse him of undermining democracy and allowing graft and organized crime to flourish.
 
The country's EU membership bid has been on ice since it applied to become an official candidate four years ago, due to concern in the 27-nation bloc over democracy, crime and corruption.
 
Rama, who won international acclaim during a decade as Tirana mayor for revitalizing the drab capital, says he will reboot the EU bid and transplant his success in the city to the rest of the rundown country of 2.8 million people.
 
The U.S. embassy in Tirana called for the results to be quickly certified, mindful that the Central Election Commission is currently without enough members to confirm the vote, due to a political row before the election. A court may have to certify the result instead.
 
The European Commission urged Albania's rival parties to work together.
 
“Now, more than ever, cross-party cooperation is needed to ensure a smooth transition to the incoming government,” said a spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele. “Prime Minister Berisha's announcement is an important step towards this goal. There are many challenges ahead which will demand immediate attention.”
 
Berisha announced his resignation from the Democratic Party but said he would remain a lawmaker. “This is not a farewell speech,” he said.
 
Analysts said there was little sign of a quiet retirement.
 
“I don't think there is any hope in the West after this that he will really quit politics,” said analyst Shpetim Nazarko. “He will just stay there and pull the strings from the backstage for the next few years.”

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid