PM ahead in tight Albania elections .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} TIRANA - Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha held a narrow lead in the count Monday after tightly contested general elections seen as a test of the Muslim-majority country's EU aspirations, exit polls said.

The leader of the governing Democratic Party hailed Sunday's vote as "free and fair," and authorities said it passed smoothly. But the Socialist Party of his main rival, Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, complained of irregularities in the seventh election since the collapse of the old communist regime in the early 1990s. An election without major disruptions marks a crucial improvement in the Balkan state, where violence has marred post-communist polls. Several dozen Berisha supporters gathered in front of the Democratic Party's headquarters in Tirana late Sunday.

With tensions running high due to the tight finish, Berisha and Rama called for calm among their parties' activists until first results are announced later on Monday. "There are no losers or winners in these elections, because a European Albania is a country for all Albanians," Berisha said after polling ended. But the main opposition Socialist Party had said it intends to file complaints of irregularities.
hurriyet