Sunday, July 03, 2005

Voting begins in Albania for parliamentary elections

TIRANA, July 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Voting for Albania's parliament elections begins Sunday morning at over 4,700 polling stations in 100 constituencies throughout the country.

According to the Central Elections Commission, more than 1,253 candidates from 27 political parties and coalitions and 11 independent candidates will compete for 140 seats of the unicameral parliament in the one-round elections.

About 2.85 million registered citizens will vote and the votingwill last 12 hours to end at 7:00 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).

During the elections, 100 deputies will be elected directly from the candidates and the other 40 seats will be distributed to the parties and coalitions according to the proportion of votes they win.

A total of 525 international observers mainly from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and 3,500 native observers of the local non-governmental organizations monitor the elections.

Meanwhile, police forces and army troops are deployed in the polling stations and the key government buildings in the country to enforce the security during the elections.

The ruling Socialist Party led by the incumbent Prime Minister Fatos Nano wants to win for the third time after two victories in 1997 and 2001, facing the main rival of the biggest opposition Democratic Party led by the former President Sali Berisha.

The preliminary results are expected in Monday.

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