Albanian gov't survives departure of key ally

Albania's Democratic Party government won the votes of three former disgruntled opposition lawmakers, managing to shore up a majority in parliament on Thursday after its key ally quit their coalition.

Hailing the vote as "historic," Prime Minister Sali Berisha thanked the lawmakers after three new ministers and a deputy premier from his own Democratic Party were confirmed with 72 votes in the 140-seat chamber.

The outgoing Socialist Integration Movement (SIM) party had signaled it would not try to unseat the government and its lawmakers abstained, but Berisha accused the opposition Socialist Party leader Edi Rama of seeking to topple his government.

"I express my deep gratitude for this historic vote that neutralized a primitive effort by Rama to create a technical government," a smiling Berisha told the supportive lawmakers before addressing the opposition group.

"Lawmakers of the Socialist Party, you were a minority, ended this mandate as a minority and will remain a minority," he said.