Albania's Central Election Commission on Thursday finally declared Berisha's party and allies the winners of the 3 July election, controlling 80 seats in the new 140-member parliament which will convene on Friday.

Berisha, 60, is set to become Albania's 11th prime minister since the end of communism, returning to power after eight years of Socialist government and after being forced to resign as anarchy swept the country when investment schemes collapsed.

Outgoing Prime Minister Fatos Nano, 52, resigned as Socialist Party leader shortly after the final election result was announced.

Defeat acknowledged

Nano conceded victory to the opposition Democratic Party, ending 60 days of challenges to the results of the 3 July general election.
   
Nano, who has governed for eight years, acknowledged defeat by Berisha after final results were declared.

"Albanians ... marked the end of a regime which came to power with guns and their thugs"

Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha

Berisha described Nano as "one of the darkest personalities in Albania," and added: "Albanians ... marked the end of a regime which came to power with guns and their thugs."

The July election was seen as a key test for this country of 3.2 million people, still recovering from decades of harsh communist rule, as it pushes for Nato membership and closer ties with the European Union.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored the election, had said the poll marked an improvement but still fell short of international standards.