India rejects Albania's claim to Mother Teresa's remains

Sali BerishaNew Delhi  - India has rejected an Albanian claim to Mother Teresa's remains because she was an Indian citizen, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha was reported to have said Saturday that his government was in negotiations with India for the return of Mother Teresa's mortal remains to Albania in time for her birth centenary in August 2010.

Born Agnese Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to an ethnic Albanian family living in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa went to India as a Roman Catholic nun in 1929 when she was 18.

EU urges Albania to improve voting system

EU urges Albania to improve voting systemStockholm  - Albania needs to take further steps to reduce the "politicisation" of its electoral process, the EU warned in a statement from the Swedish government - which hold the European Union's rotating presidency.

The statement - issued late Wednesday - acknowledged the Balkan country had made progress in its voting system - but said Albania should study the final report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that monitored the country's June 28 parliamentary elections.

Albanian parliament votes in Berisha's new cabinet

Tirana, Albania  - The Albanian parliament backed Prime Minister Sali Berisha's new coalition cabinet after a marathon debate.

The vote, held late Wednesday shortly before midnight, was 74 in favour and one against.

Berisha's centre-right Democratic Party won 70 of the 140 seats in the one-house Assembly in June 28 elections, which were plagued by opposition accusations of voting fraud. He forged an alliance with the former Albanian premier's Socialist Party for Integration, which won four seats.

The opposition Socialist Party with 65 seats boycotted the debate on the new cabinet, alleging massive election violations and demanding a repeat vote.

Albanian president designates Berisha new prime minister

bamir-topiTirana  - Albanian President Bamir Topi on Wednesday designated Sali Berisha as the country's next prime minister.

Topi also called on Berisha to form the new government. Media reports said the new government would be presented early next week.

A block led by Berisha's conservative Democratic Party claimed narrow victory in June 28 polls and Berisha struck a deal last week with the former opposition leader Ilir Meta to form the majority.

The opposition Socialist Party rejected the outcome of the election and has been boycotting parliament's constitutive session since it started on Monday night.

Quake jolts northeastern Albania

Quake jolts northeastern Albania Tirana, Albania - An earthquake jolted northeastern Albania Sunday night, causing no loss of life but damaging and destroying hundreds of homes, local media said Monday.

The epicentre of the quake was Gjorice, near Albania's border with Macedonia and some 100 kilometres east of Tirana. The earthquake had a magnitude 5.4 on the Richter scale.

It hit an hour before midnight and was followed by a series of smaller tremors, the Seismology Institute of Albania said.

Local reports say six houses collapsed and some 1,000 were damaged. (dpa)

Conservative PM Berisha to head coalition with leftist partner

Prime Minister Sali BerishaTirana  - Albania has a new coalition government, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the former opposition leader Ilir Meta said in Tirana Wednesday, more than two months after parliamentary elections.

Berisha's conservative Democratic Party and Meta's social- democratic LSI party struck an agreement to form the majority ahead of the inaugural session of the new parliament on Monday.

Albanian parliament to meet after troubled elections

Albanian parliament to meet after troubled elections Tirana, Albania - The new Albanian parliament is finally set to hold its constitutive session on September 7, more than two months since contested elections took place.

President Bamir Topi called the parliament to meet days after the main opposition force, Tirana Mayor Bamir Topi's Socialist Party, refused to recognize the marred elections and hinted at a boycott.

Four injured in explosion in Albania

AlbaniaTirana  - Four workers were injured Sunday in a powerful explosion in a steel factory in Albania, local media reported.

The injured included three Albanians and one Turk, all employed at the factory owned by Kurum, a Turkish steel company, in the central Albanian town of Elbasan, police said.

The head of Elbasan's police, Ylli Metko, told reporters that the explosion was an accident. No other details were known. dpa

Fugitive from justice kills four Albanian police

Fugitive from justice kills four Albanian police Tirana - A fugitive Albanian criminal fatally shot four police officers trying to arrest him in Adriatic coastal town of Durres on Friday, local reports said.

The gunman was also injured, arrested and transported to a hospital for treatment. The man was reportedly a fugitive from justice since escaping from a courtroom while on trial for murder in 2003.

Police in Durres, 50 kilometres west of Tirana, did confirmed the identity of the wounded gunman. (dpa)

Albanian premier's coalition needs ruling partner after poll win

Albanian premier's coalition needs ruling partner after poll win Tirana - The coalition led by Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha won a majority of votes in June's parliamentary elections but not enough to form a government alone, the electoral authority said Saturday.

Berisha's coalition won 70 seats in 140-seat parliament, head of the Central Election Commission Arben Ristani told reporters in Tirana.

The main opposition Socialist party led by Tirana's mayor Edi Rama won 66 seats in parliament, while its splinter LSI party won four seats.

Albania plan to legalize gay marriages

Sali Berisha Tirana  - Albanian government is considering the legalization of same sex marriages, the cabinet of Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said Thursday.

In his speech before the parliament, Berisha said discrimination against homosexuals was "unacceptable" and that by adopting the law, Albania would conform to a European standard.

The Albanian parliament is soon to discuss the bill, which is an attempt by Tirana to bring the country closer to the European Union.

In this former communist country, homosexuality until 1995 was a crime that carried a 10-year prison sentence.

Albanian opposition rejects election results, calls for new vote

Albanian opposition rejects election results, calls for new voteTirana - The leader of Albania's opposition Socialist Party on Wednesday rejected the results of the June 28 parliamentary elections as "fraud," and announced plans to call new elections.

The Albanian Electoral Commission announced earlier that the Socialist Party led by Tirana mayor Edi Rama won 66 seats in the 140- seat parliament, behind the 70 seats won by the Democrats led by Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

Albania to send additional troops to Afghanistan

Albania to send additional troops to Afghanistan Tirana - Albania has made plans to nearly double its troop levels in Afghanistan ahead of that country's August presidential elections, the official news agency ATA reported Tuesday.

ATA said that a further 120 Albanian soldiers would join the international security assistance force (ISAF), in addition to the 140 already in Afghanistan. ISAF has a total of 64,500 troops. (dpa)

Albania reports first case of swine flu

Albania reports first case of swine fluTirana - Albania's health ministry reported the country's first confirmed case of the swine flu and said there were eight other suspected cases.

"We have one case with H1N1 influenza. It is a student and he is in good condition," said Silva Bino from the Department of infectiousdiseases.

Albanian Health Minister Anili Godo said that there were eight other suspected cases of swine flu in Albania.

Former Albanian international arrested for bar-brawl murder

Tirana, Albania  - Former Albanian footballer, Agim Bubeqi, was arrested after one person was killed and four others were injured in a brawl, police said Friday.

Bubeqi, 46, had an argument with a group of men in a bar in Vlora, southern Albania. He allegedly injured all five with a knife he picked up from his home after starting the fight.

Bubeqi played as a striker for Flamurtari Vlora, winning an Albanian league winner's medal in 1991, and has been capped six times by Albania. (dpa)

Bomb explodes in front of Albanian parliament

Tirana  - An explosive device went off in front of the Albanian parliament late Wednesday night, police said. Windows in nearby buildings were shattered by the blast, but no injuries were reported.

The device was apparently set in or underneath a parked car, police said, providing no other details. It was unclear whether the blast was connected to recent elections in the country.

Albania held parliamentary elections on June 28, but the results had not been formally announced even three weeks later, amid tensions and allegations of vote-rigging.

According to unofficial results, the vote left the conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha's bloc and the leftist opposition totally deadlocked.

Confusion over Albanian polls continues

Confusion over Albanian polls continues Tirana  - The confusion over the outcome of Albania's parliamentary election continued Saturday, six days after the polls closed, with reports of a victory for the ruling coalition, even though some ballots remained uncounted.

The spokesman of the State Election Commission (CEC), Leonard Olli, said the coalition led by conservative Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha's Democratic Party won 71 out of 140 seats in the parliament.

At the same time he said that CEC still have not counted all the ballots - 50 out of 4735 ballot boxes remain untallied.

Albania election "result" points to stalemate, fresh poll

Albania election "result" points to stalemate, fresh pollTirana - Albania's parliamentary elections apparently produced a political stalemate and was likely to have to be held again as the two main blocs won the same number of seats in the new legislature, an unofficial result on Tuesday morning showed.

The coalition led by the conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha's Democratic Party claimed 70 seats, as many as did the Tiran Mayor Edi Rama's Socialist Party and its splinter, the LSI.

Albanian election authorities silent amid a close race

Albanian election authorities silent amid a close raceTirana, Albania - Albanian elections authorities announced no official or partial results Monday morning, more than 12 hours after voting ended for the country's new parliament and amid a dramatically close ballot count.

The ballot counting was progressing "normally," though only after starting with hours of delay in some parts of the country, election commission spokesman Leonard Olli said. There was also no turnout figure, though it appeared to have been surprisingly low.

Albanian exit polls show Berisha en route to another term

Albanian exit polls show Berisha en route to another termTirana, Albania  - Conservative Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha looked headed for another term after legislative elections Sunday and thousands of people crowded the streets of Tirana and other cities to celebrate the apparent victory.

With the central election commission keeping silent on official results, crowds relied on exit polls that indicated a clear win for Berisha's Democratic Party.

It was unclear hours after voting ended when the election authorities planned to begin announcing at least partial official results.

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