March 28, 2007 / 5:55 PM / 11 years ago

Running for office? Draw the winner

TIRANA (Reuters) - Candidates in a minor municipal race in the Albanian capital, Tirana, drew lots on Wednesday to end a 40-day wrangle over a contested election.

“Make sure you don’t pull one out of your sleeve,” quipped Central Election Commission head Clirim Gjata as an official shuffled two hollow plastic balls, one of which held a slip of paper marked “Winner”.

Socialist incumbent Mira Veizi and challenger Gerti Bogdani, a U.S.-schooled 25-year-old from the ruling Democratic Party, won 4,336 votes each in the February 18 election. On Wedneday, both drew a ball and Veizi won.

But Albania’s two main parties have contested every vote bitterly since the Stalinist regime collapsed in 1991, and in keeping with the spirit of total mistrust, Veizi had already said she would not accept the result and filed a complaint.

A Central Election Commission said she would win regardless since the Commission was hardly likely to rule against its own decision to cast lots for the result.

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