Albania PM defiant over opposition demands for his resignation – insists he has a clear majority in parliament

Tirana, Albania | 19 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has refused to bow down to opposition demands for his resignation, saying his clear socialist majority in parliament grants him the mandate to carry on governing.

Mr. Rama made his comments to Italian daily Corriere della Sera who asked if he would resign following an opposition rally in Tirana which turned violent on Saturday.

I do not even think about it. I had a clear mandate from the people, we have a clear majority in Parliament and ultimately I have an obligation towards my countrymen. I am not obliged to bow down to the requests of a parliamentary minority. The only obligation is the contract with the Albanian people who gave us the vote to govern” PM Rama said.

On Monday, the opposition block of Albania announced the unprecedented drastic decision to resign from their parliamentary mandates, asking for the resignation of PM Rama and the establishment of a transitory technical government which will take the small Balkan country into free and fair general elections.

Rama admitted corruption is a huge problem in the small Balkan country but said the political crisis is provoked by a weak opposition which has no credibility to challenge the government politically.

There is a deep crisis of the opposition which is not able to challenge the government politically. This minority is weaker than the 2017 elections: if we went to elections tomorrow the opposition would get less votes.” said a defiant Rama.

Rama added that despite endemic corruption in Albania, his government is doing its utmost to fight it and that the milestone reform of the justice system undertaken by his government will soon deliver results.

Let me say that we are committed to the maximum in the reform of justice. This is what no one has ever had the courage to do in the country and in the Balkans, which is also noted by the European Union. We are carrying out a reform which removes corrupt judges and magistrates from Albanian courts,” said PM Rama.

Rama later compared his government to Juventus, the top football club of the Italian premier league, commenting ironically on twitter that when “they can’t stand Juventus any longer, the league should be cancelled. Who remains behind in the standings should burn their uniforms and abandon the pitch to play games in the streets.”.

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 linked to criminal groups.

However, the US and EU backed justice reform has already expelled several judges and prosecutors through a long delayed 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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