Albania – Opposition party to quit parliamentary mandates, ahead of upcoming local elections and EU talks

lulzim, basha, dp, protest, tirana, albania

Tirana, Albania | 18 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s main opposition party DP has announced it will resign its 33 parliamentary mandates, asking for a transitory technical government which will take the small Balkan country into free and fair general elections.

As previously announced, and despite doubts of bluffing, Albania’s main opposition leader proposal to abandon their parliamentary mandates has been approved today by democratic MPs, following a massive opposition protest which turned violent on Saturday.

The unprecedented decision further escalates the political crisis in the small Balkan nation only months ahead of its upcoming local elections and as Albania awaits the green light to formally start membership talks with the European Union later this year.

During a press conference following a Democratic Party parliamentary group meeting, DP Chairman Lulzim Basha confirmed the group had unanimously voted in favor of quitting all 33 parliamentary mandates of the DP.

The DP parliamentary group has unanimously voted in favor of giving up their mandates and has authorized the party chairman to take all necessary next steps as provided by the statute of the Democratic Party of Albania,” said Basha minutes ago, who is now expected to call an extraordinary meeting of the DP National Council.

The DP chair said the decision was forced upon its party MPs given the “unprecedented national emergency situation” Albania is facing because of corruptive and criminal affairs, miserable social conditions and due to the constant violation of human rights through the capture of the justice system by Edi Rama’s socialist government.

According to the electoral code of Albania, the parliamentary mandate of a member of parliament ends when he or she resigns from it, or when he or she fails to show in parliament for a consecutive period of 6 months.

The DP has not confirmed details of how its MPs intend to ‘give up’ their mandates and whether they will resign immediately from their mandates or wait for the 6 month period to end.

If opposition MPs resign officially, the Central Elections Commission (KQZ) will have to replace the resigning names with the following candidate names in the DP electoral lists put forward during the 2017 general elections, where PM Rama’s socialists won a second mandate to govern the country.  

Albania hopes to formally start membership talks with the European Union later this year, and Rama’s socialists are keen to show some credible results in their reform of the highly corrupt justice system, which the opposition depicts as captured by the governing majority.

However, the US and EU backed justice reform has already expelled several judges and prosecutors through a vetting process and hopes the system will start to deliver its first results within this year.

Following the establishment of the crucial High Council of Justice (KLGJ) and the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP) last December, a special anti-corruption prosecutorial structure (SPAK) is expected to be erected in the following weeks which will be expected to investigate high level corruption and political links to organized crime which are highly pervasive in the small Balkan country.

European Union leaders agreed last June to start membership talks with Albania and Macedonia within 2019 if both small Balkan nations show substantial progress in their crucial rule of law reforms under way.

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