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Political Odds and Ends

The elections may be over but there has still been a little bit of tidying up to do, most of which happened while I was away. The Prime Minister reshuffled his cabinet bringing in five new ministers, all but one of them from his own party.

One of them, Bujar Nishani, the new Interior Minister, popped up in Kombinati today where there was a major fire at a styrofoam factory. The plume of thick black smoke which we watched rising into the sky will do wonders for the air quality.

The previous Interior Minister, Sokol Olldashi, had resigned both his cabinet post and his parliamentary seat in order to take on Edi Rama. The resulting election for a new member of parliament in his constituency of Shijak left something to be desired.

The problems came as no surprise. In the days before the election the CEC put out a lengthy statement warning of potential difficulties. On the day the opposition candidate withdrew and the Democratic Party candidate won with more than 90 per cent of the vote. While the Democrats are strong in this area they are not that strong, if the local election results for mayor and council are anything to go by.

Finally, the most surreal outcome was here in Tirana, where the long running saga of district number 10 was finally resolved. During the vote counting both candidates - Gerti Bogdani of the PD and Mira Veizi of the PS - had swapped accusations regarding the integrity of the counting process.

In the end the result was a tie - 4,336 votes each. The CEC decided to resolve the matter by drawing lots. Ms Veizi protested, saying that she would refuse to accept the outcome and file a complaint with the CEC. When the draw took place she won. Whether she intends to take action against herself is unclear.

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