Albanians vote in local elections

May 8, 2011 at 3:53 PM

TIRANA, Albania, May 8 (UPI) -- Polling places were kept open late in Albania Sunday night as a gang leader was arrested for trying to bully voters, authorities said.

The local elections are the first test of strength between Tirana Mayor Edi Rama's Socialists and Prime Minister Sali Berisha's Democrats since the disputed 2009 parliamentary elections, Balkan Insight reports. Sunday's turnout was estimated at 51 percent.

In Farka, outside Tirana, police said Emiliano Shullazi, a well-known local thug with a drug record, was arrested along with 10 followers and three guns were seized, police said. Scuffles between party supporters were reported across the country.

Central Electoral Commission Chairman Arben Ristani said the polls would be kept open as long as voters are waiting in line.

A high turnout was reported in the capital, Tirana, were Rama was battling Berisha's candidate, Lulzim Basha.

The voting was being monitored by 900 local observers organized by Albanian non-government organizations along with 250 foreign observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

All of Albania's elections since the fall of communism in 1991 have failed to meet international standards.

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