Albania president denounces municipal elections

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s president on Tuesday denounced Sunday’s municipal elections as a “farce” and urged new polls to resolve the country’s political crisis.

President Ilir Meta had tried to cancel the elections, saying they would be undemocratic without the participation of Albania’s opposition, which boycotted the vote.

But Prime Minister Edi Rama of the ruling Socialist Party ordered the elections for mayors and local council members held Sunday, and his party is expected to receive the most votes by a significant margin. Preliminary results were expected Tuesday but were delayed.

The opposition has claimed that the low turnout — 21.6% — showed that Sunday’s elections were unconstitutional and illegal.

International observers said Albania’s political parties showed little regard to voters during weekend elections, adding that “voters were pressured by all political sides.”

Meta has proposed new local and early general elections in October, but the suggestion is unlikely to be accepted by the Socialists, who are continuing attempts to oust him.

Opposition center-right lawmakers relinquished their seats in parliament and have led protests since mid-February, accusing the government of corruption and vote-rigging in previous elections. Rama and his party deny the allegations.

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