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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Albanians Head to Polls After Chaotic Campaign

TIRANA, Albania -- With Socialists promising to rid the country of President Sali Berisha, political parties Friday wrapped up a violence-marred campaign for Albania's most important elections since the end of Stalinist rule.

"Albania is at risk and we are living in difficult times,'' Socialist leader Fatos Nano told about 10,000 supporters in Tirana's central Skanderbeg Square. "That's why our country must be safe from the claws of the dictator Berisha.''

Nano, who had been jailed by Berisha, blamed the president for six months of violence since the collapse of risky investment schemes that has left nearly 1,500 people dead.

Berisha, for his part, accuses the Socialists, the reformed Communists, of wanting to take Albania back to the days when Stalinists sealed off the country.

One of his bodyguards was killed Thursday and two others were wounded when gunmen fired at a presidential motorcade after a rally south of Tirana.

More than 500 international observers will monitor the elections Sunday.