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Albania: Preliminary Results Give Socialists Majority

Tirana, 7 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Albania's Central Election Commission today said preliminary results give the Albanian Socialist Party 16 constituencies following a second round of voting in general elections.

According to the commission, the main rival Democratic Party won just six seats in yesterday's run-off.

If confirmed, the results mean that the Socialists and their allies have already secured two-thirds of the seats in the new parliament. Final results are expected in the next few days.

Earlier today, Democratic leader Tritan Shehu resigned, citing his responsibility for the party's devastating loss. Shehu said in a statement that he felt he should resign immediately and open the way for democratic changes in the party.

President Sali Berisha, who has promised to resign from the presidency, said last week he will take over as head of the party.

The Democrats defeat is widely attributed to the collapse of illegal pyramid investment schemes, which led to the loss of private savings of many Albanians and an armed uprising in Southern Albania.