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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid