Six Albanian ministers to leave their posts under deal between government and opposition

By bne IntelliNews May 19, 2017

Six ministers in Albania’s Socialist-led government will be replaced with technical ministers as part of the agreement reached between Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha. 

The agreement - struck on May 18 under US pressure - opens the way for the opposition to participate in the upcoming election, which will be postponed by one week to June 25. Previously Basha’s Democratic Party and other opposition parties planned to boycott the election. 

Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, who recently took up the position following the removal of Saimir Tahiri, will be among the ministers who will be replaced, according to the Democratic Party statement released on May 18.

Other ministers who will leave their offices are Justice Minister Petrit Vasili, Finance Minister Arben Ahmetaj, Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu, Education Minister Lindita Nikolla and Minister for Social Affairs Diana Xhacka. Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi will be also replaced with a technical candidate. 

Installing a technical government to prepare for a fair election was one of the key opposition demands for participating in the vote. However, Prime Minister Edi Rama will remain in office until the new election, despite calls for his removal.

The opposition will appoint a new head of the central election commission to replace Denar Biba. Ombudsman Igli Totozani will also leave the post.

Holding free and fair elections and implementing judicial reforms are key for Albania to start its long-awaited EU accession talks this year. The country gained candidate status in 2014, but has not yet opened any negotiation chapters.

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