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EU Urges Partial Repetition of Albanian Election

Rome, May 31 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union has urged Albania's government to stage a partial repetition of a general election which the opposition parties said was rigged.

The Italian foreign ministry, speaking on behalf of the EU, issued a statement today warning that Albania's relations with the 15-nation bloc could suffer unless the electoral process conformed to international democratic standards. It said the government should repeat elections in constituencies which had what it called "grave irregularities."

President Sali Berisha's ruling Democratic Party won roughly 68 percent of the vote last Sunday in the first round of an election that was boycotted by the opposition and criticized as inadequate by Western observers. Separately, the U.S.-based group, Human Rights Watch, issued a statement late yesterday calling on the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations and the United States to declare the Albanian elections invalid.

It said those responsible for abuses of the electoral law should be held accountable, and conditions should be established for new elections to take place.