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HELSINKI COMMISSIONERS URGE QUALITY AND INTEGRITY TO CHARACTERIZE UPCOMING LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA

WASHINGTON –Members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) today called on Albanian authorities and all participants in the May 8 local elections to undertake every effort to ensure that the electoral process is carried out in accordance with Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) commitments and norms.

“With just days to go until ballots are cast and counted, there needs to be maximum transparency regarding these elections and a demonstrated commitment by election officials to a free and fair electoral process,” said Commission Chairman Representative Chris Smith (NJ-04).  “Voters everywhere need to know their decision in the voting booth will be respected and counted, and in Albania particularly, voters deserve to know that after two decades of elections that fell short of democratic standards, this year will be different. This year must be a turning point where democratic principles prevail and people can have real confidence in the accuracy of election results.”

Smith also expressed concern about reports of violent incidents that have marred the current campaign.

“Having met good, talented people from several of the contending political parties in Albania, I know that many have positive ideas for the country’s future,” noted Representative Robert A. Aderholt (R-AL), a House Commissioner who has visited Albania several times in the past. “I hope these elections will be fair and reflect the will of the people so that those elected, whether in the majority or the minority, can work constructively at the local level.  Hopefully, these local elections will set a positive example for the next parliamentary elections in Albania.”

Smith noted that, since many voters typically make their decision in the final days, this message is especially timely. “We call on Albanian election officials to ensure that votes will be properly counted.”

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