Albanian vote in election seen as key to moving toward EU



    Albanian vote in election seen as key to moving toward EU

    June 25,  Tirana : Albanians were voting Sunday in a general election with the ruling Socialists and rival Democrats both setting their sights on an outright majority to push through judicial reforms vital for future EU membership.

    Sunday's race pits incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama against the center-right Democratic Party of Lulzim Basha, neither of whom managed to win the 70 seats needed for a parliamentary majority in the elections of 2013 or 2009. Holding a free and fair election is key to launching EU membership talks for the nation of 2.9 million, which is already a NATO member. After earning EU candidate status in 2014, Tirana has struggled to pass important reforms vital for its bid to advance to EU.

    Some 6,000 police officers were on duty for election security, while more 300 international observers came to monitor the vote. On Sunday, Albanians also celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. In the early morning, thousands of Muslim believers said prayers at the recently-renovated Skanderbeg Square in the capital of Tirana.

    The Oslo Times International News Network