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17 October, 2000
Increased tension and serious irregularities marked the local election process in Himara, Albania, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) early conclusions noted.
During a press conference, OSCE observers noted that "in Himara conditions were characterized by serious irregularities, in an environment of increased tension with a neighboring country".
"In Himara, where an ethnic Greek minority exists, the final phase of the pre-election campaign on a local and national level deteriorated by a nationalistic rhetoric, which was greatly manifested in the press even on the day of the elections, within an environment of increased tension with a neighboring country," they said.
On the election day, on Sunday, "in Himara conditions were marked by several serious irregularities, by the intimidation of committee members, by a case of violence during which a ballot box was destroyed and by cases of fraud in another three election centers," they noted.
Also in "Himara an unusual alliance of parties took place, including the Democratic Party that supported a socialist candidate. Inflammatory language was used during the campaign against the Human Rights Union party candidate and as a result the last few days were marked by a nationalistic rhetoric on a local and national level, against the ethnic Greek minority," they added.
The OSCE observers held their press conference in Tirana, where they presented their assessment regarding the elections, stressing that despite irregularities the election process "made progress".
Source: Athens News Agency