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Former Albanian Leader Re-Elected

October 2, 1999

TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ Former President Sali Berisha was re-elected leader of the opposition Democratic Party Friday after a senior party official pulled out of the race, accusing Berisha of manipulating the nomination process.

Almost 600 of the 786 delegates attending the Democratic Party congress, which started Thursday, voted for Berisha. The other candidate, who was announced few hours before the congress started, garnered only 81 votes.

Berisha, a cardiologist by profession and a former Communist party official, was first elected Democratic Party chief back in 1991 when widespread protest rallies triggered the collapse of the Communist regime.

Berisha’s real challenge in his bid for party leader was his deputy party chief and long time ally, Genc Pollo, 36.

Soon after he declared he was running against Berisha, Pollo came under attack by the pro-Berisha media. He also said he and his family had received anonymous threats.

After Pollo pulled out of the race on Wednesday, in a face-saving move, a new candidate was announced. But during the congress, he himself called on delegates to vote for Berisha.

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