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Albania: OSCE Says Violence Complicates Election Campaign

Tirana, 5 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Growing violence in Albania is making it difficult for candidates to campaign for the June 29 parliamentary elections, says the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The statement follows a failed assassination attempt yesterday against President Sali Berisha.

But OSCE spokesman Jeff Murray said there are no immediate plans to delay the ballot. Earlier, Prime Minister Bashkim Fino denounced the attack on Berisha. Fino also announced stronger security measures to protect political leaders and candidates during the campaign.

Berisha's bodyguards yesterday reportedly seized a 25-year-old assailant as he tried to throw an explosive device at Berisha during a rally in a coastal village west of Tirana. The incident came just two days after 28 people were injured in bombings of a cafe and a bus in Tirana.

Speaking on Albanian television last night, Berisha described the attack against him as "an ugly act" in which "a terrorist" attempted to take dozens of lives. Berisha said terrorism is an immoral weapon of the defeated.

Berisha urged all Albanians to remain calm and show a common commitment to conducting the election campaign with dignity and not to lose their optimism, or determination to stabilize Albania.