Albanian opposition vows to bring change after poll

Several thousand supporters gathered Thursday at a rally of Albania's main opposition Socialist Party who vowed to bring change to the country if successful in June 23 legislative polls.

The ruling Democrats "were an obstacle to Albania's progress", Socialist leader Edi Rama told the crowd at the central Mother Teresa square in the capital Tirana.

"We will bring Albania to a rebirth. I will be with you to solve all your problems," he said, as supporters chanted "Victory, victory! We will win!"

Many participants were dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Renaissance: 2013 the year of changes", and waved party flags.

Sunday's election will be crucial for Albania's future in Europe as a key condition of achieving EU candidate status is ensuring that its parliamentary elections meet international standards.

But there are fears that the election results will likely be contested, as they have been at all polls held in the country since the fall of communism in 1990.

Albania has been in political gridlock since the last legislative elections in 2009, when the Socialists refused to recognise the results.

The European Union has warned that the vote must be held in accordance with European standards or Tirana's candidacy for membership of the 27-member bloc will be rejected for the third time.

Political parties will wrap up campaigning on Friday.