Albania President postpones local elections, further deepening political crisis

Albanian President Ilir Meta
Albanian President Ilir Meta

Albania’s President Ilir Meta has announced a new local election date, despite disagreement from the Prime Minister and amid confusing constitutional interpretations over the legality of his act. In the meantime, Parliament has begun an impeachment procedure, arguing the President has violated the constitution.

Prime Minister Edi Rama has said his socialist government would dismiss the presidential decree, arguing it is unconstitutional, insisting local elections will go ahead as previously planned, on June 30th , despite a major opposition boycott.

President Ilir Meta said on Thursday the vote would take place on October 13, having previously announced that he was cancelling this weekend’s vote because of an opposition boycott.

Meta told Albanian reporters early in the morning his decision was taken in order to calm the tense political crisis and to give a positive message to the country’s European partners.

Earlier in June, Meta told Al Jazeera: “If the crisis is going to last, the chances [of joining the EU] will be undermined for years, not for months. This is clear.”

I am sure I have done the best to avoid this fuller escalation of the conflict between the government and the opposition and to give to both sides the possibility to calm down, to reflect, and to enter soon in the local [elections] for the best interests of all Albanians,” he said.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, however, insisted the elections would take place as scheduled on Sunday.

“June 30 is the only election date,” Mr. Rama tweeted as Mr. Meta was still holding his news conference live.

Albania has been going under a tense political crisis after its main opposition parties relinquished their parliamentary mandates en-block, hoping their boycott would topple Edi Rama’s government, whom they accuse of corruption and links to organized crime.

However, their plan backfired and most seats in parliament were taken up by names on electoral lists.

Despite weekly protests, some violent, opposition supporters have failed to oblige PM Rama to resign and their action has not mobilized huge numbers to topple the government.

The country’s people and international observers are holding their breath as opposition parties, including the country’s President, have warned there would be civil conflict and violence if the election went ahead.

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