Albania's opposition Democrats reject Rama’s attempt to resolve crisis

Albania's opposition Democrats reject Rama’s attempt to resolve crisis
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje May 5, 2017

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), Lulzim Basha, failed again to find a solution to the political crisis at a meeting late on May 4.

Rama has offered a number of concessions to the Democrats in a bid to persuade them to end their boycott of the parliament and take part in the June 18 election. These include an offer for the party to monitor the election on the same basis as the government - one of the DP’s main demands concerns the holding of free and fair elections. However, Basha has so far turned down all the prime minister’s overtures. 

Free and fair elections and the implementation of crucial judicial reforms are needed for Albania to start its long-awaited EU accession talks this year. The DP’s boycott of the parliament is obstructing progress on the judicial reforms - which some speculate is the party’s aim.

This was the second meeting between Rama and Basha in the last few days, held in a bid to find a compromise to solve the deepening crisis. They met following a series of meetings with Western diplomats from the EU and US.

Rama said after the meeting that he had invited the opposition to monitor the election process closely. He also offered the Democrats the chance to nominate a deputy prime minister, though with the proviso that the candidate should not be a party member, to head the monitoring group, according to the government statement.

The monitoring task force was proposed to work in cooperation with monitors from the EU, the US and OSCE.

Rama also said that work has started to prepare for the June 18 elections. 

Basha rejected the offer, saying that Albanian needs a political solution, and he is holding out for Rama’s resignation and the appointment of a caretaker government.

“The solution offered by the prime minister, is not a political one. Monitoring cannot be limited,” Basha said in a party statement, without providing further explanation.

He said that the DP is sticking to its demand for a caretaker government with a mandate specifically to solve and stop the influence of crime and the use of drug money for the election. He also wants the introduction of electronic voting and counting within six months of a potential political agreement. The last proposal, if accepted, would mean delaying the election.

“There has been completely lack of political will for electronic voting,” Basha said.