Jun 21, 2015 3:16 AM

Albania holds local polls, key to launch EU membership talks

The Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albanians have started voting in local municipal elections, a key step in their efforts to launch membership negotiations with the European Union.

About 3.4 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the country's seventh local elections since the fall of communism in 1990 to elect 61 mayors and 1,595 municipal counsellors.

Voting started Sunday at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) and ends at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT).

The focus is in the capital where a 37-party coalition led by Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialists have nominated former social affairs minister Erion Veliaj, while the 15-party opposition led by Tirana Mayor Lulzim Basha's Democrats tapped parliamentarian Halim Kosova.

Around 200 international observers are monitoring the polls.

The law says results must be revealed no later than three days after the vote.

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