Albania opposition moves to bring down government

Albanian flag.JPG

Albania's opposition Socialist Party yesterday (5 April) called for the instigation of daily anti-government protests "to accelerate the end" of the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, accusing him of electoral fraud during the last elections.

"The time has come for a big popular movement in order to accelerate the end of this government, responsible for electoral fraud, but also for other social and economic injustice," Edi Rama, leader of the main opposition Socialist party, is quoted by AFP as saying.

Rama, who is also mayor of Tirana, said gatherings would be organised throughout the country in protest at "bad governing" by PM Berisha's Democratic Party ahead of a massive final rally in Tirana on 30 April.

Rama urged Albanians to protest against "stolen votes" and the "ruining of the country's and each family's economy".

Albania's ruling party and the opposition have spent months locked in dispute over legislative elections held last June, which were won by a coalition led by Berisha's Democrats.

The Socialists, who have 65 of 140 seats in parliament, returned to the legislature in late February after a seven-month boycott. But they refuse to take part in parliamentary activities as their demand for a recount has been rejected by the assembly, dominated by Berisha's coalition.

In a recent interview with EURACTIV, EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle expressed concern about the stability of democratic institutions and the lack of political dialogue in parliament (EURACTIV 30/03/10).

"Responsibility lies with both political parties – both the ruling group and the opposition," Füle said.

Although Albania has changed enormously since the Communist period, when it was a unique case of autarchy vis-à-vis not only the West, but also the rest of the Communist bloc except China, it still remains a poor country.

A recently published Eurostat survey puts Albania at the very bottom in Europe in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per citizen, expressed in purchasing power terms. 

(EURACTIV with agencies.)

On a recent visit to Albania, EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle used unusually tough language, warning Tirana that a prolonged political stalemate would harm the country's EU accession prospects (EURACTIV 22/03/10).

Albania applied for EU membership in April 2009. In July, EU foreign ministers stated that they would return to the country's application once Albanian national elections had been completed last June.

But ever since the June poll, the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the Socialist party of opposition leader Edi Rama have kept accusing each other of fraud (EURACTIV 30/06/09).

Albania's opposition Socialist Party, which controls nearly half the seats in parliament, boycotted the assembly for months, holding up the passage of laws including many that are needed to align the country with EU legislation.

  • 30 April: Major protest planned in Tirana.

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