Letter:Albanian poll results were legitimate

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Sir: Last week's reporting by Andrew Gumbel on the stolen Albanian election shows that the crucial factor ensuring the victory of Saul Berisha's Democratic Party was the willingness of west European governments to turn a blind eye to systematic ballot-rigging.

President Sali Berisha is too dependent on Western goodwill to resist demands for a fresh poll under clear international supervision. The result might create short-term turbulence but it would be a powerful lesson to Balkan tyrants-in-the-making that the West does not regard democracy as an optional extra in their part of the world and, in the end, it would probably make the region more stable.

The mirage that Berisha stands for stability is likely soon to be dispelled completely as the evidence mounts that he is allowing Albania to become a clearing-house for hard drugs and arms.

The ones who will have the last laugh will be Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic. Why should renegade politicians who made war on their own people be expected to abide by the democratic rulebook when it has been ignored in a country viewed as a showcase for Western influence in the region?

Dr TOM GALLAGHER

Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford

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