Albanian opposition threatens to boycott elections

Opposition leader Lulzim Basha. [Tirana Echo/Twitter]

Albania’s opposition warned yesterday (4 April) it might boycott June legislative elections if their demands for fair elections and for Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign are not met.

Political life in Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, is marked by strong distrust between left and right-wing parties, who regularly exchange insults and accusations of corruption.

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Since the fall of communism in the early 1990s, the results of elections have often been contested by the losing side, including with street protests that sometimes turned violent.

However, the last parliamentary elections in 2013 were the calmest ever.

Now just days before the 9 April deadline to submit lists of candidates for the 18 June vote, the centre-right opposition has yet to do so.

Since mid-February its supporters have been protesting and occupying a tent in front of the main government offices in the capital Tirana, demanding Rama’s departure and forming a technical government to “organise free and fair elections.”

Albanian opposition to boycott parliament, defying EU appeal

Albania’s opposition leader announced a boycott of parliament yesterday (22 February), defying an appeal from the European Union not to disrupt parliamentary approval of judiciary reforms vital to starting EU accession talks.

That is a “non-negotiable condition for participation in the June polls” by the Democratic Party, its head Lulzim Basha said Tuesday in Tirana.

Supported by the European Union, Rama on Sunday rejected forming a technical government as well as delaying the elections.

The opposition has boycotted the Albanian parliament since late February.

Its charges against Rama include having allowed the expansion of cannabis growing, a national plague, which the Socialist prime minister denies.

A NATO member since 2009, Albania has become a candidate for EU membership and hopes to open negotiations by the end of the year.

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