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Albania: Berisha Concedes Party's Defeat; OSCE Says Vote 'Acceptable'

Tirana, 30 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - The pan-European body which oversaw Albania's general election yesterday said today the vote can be considered adequate and acceptable. President Sali Berisha has conceded the defeat of his Democratic Party in the poll, seen as crucial to restoring stability in the Balkan nation after its recent chaos.

A preliminary statement issued by Catherine Lalumiere, the top official observing the poll under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the vote had showed Albanians' desire for a democratic future despite minor flaws in many areas and some very serious problems in others.

A statement read out by Lalumiere in Tirana said the result of the elections can be the foundation for a stable, democractic system, which she want Albanians want and deserve.

In a televised address today, President Berisha said although the elections had taken place "in a very abnormal" situation, he vowed to abide by the result. He did not say, however, if he would step down.

No official results are yet available, but the opposition Socialists already claim they won the vote. Socialist leader Fatos Nano said today that the vote will give his leftist alliance some two-thirds of the parliament's 155 seats.

Voting was generally peaceful, except for a few isolated incidents of violence, including the killing of one electoral official. Pretender to the throne Leka I said he expected to triumph in a referendum question on restoring the monarchy.

Albania has been hit by violence following the collapse of several pyramid investment schemes earlier this year.