Albania Opposition Party Risks Major Internal Rift Ahead of June Elections

Tirana, Albania | Tirana Echo – Albania’s main opposition group the Democratic Party risks breaking up as the first signs of an internal rift signal a new turn to its two month parliamentary boycott ahead of June 18 general elections.

The rift comes as three senior democratic MPs Majlinda Bregu, Jozefina Topalli and Eduard Selami have spoke out against the electoral boycott of DP, asking its leader Lulzim Basha to abandon his boycott and enter elections scheduled for June 18th.

“I would like to share with all my friends and democratic party supporters my concern that the time to get out of a path which has never been our own, is coming to an end. The decision to boycott elections was taken without any real debate. The decision to refuse the package proposed by our European friends from the EPP was taken without any consultation. I am convinced that Albania will be more European with free and fair elections and through turmoil which no citizen in the country deserves,” – said Majlinda Bregu today, former Minister of European Integration and current chair of the European Integration Council at the Albanian Parliament.

Bregu has been rumored for months now to be against DP chair Lulzim Basha’s tough line to boycott elections and cause turmoil if PM Edi Rama goes it alone. Bregu argued on her Facebook page that the current boycott of DP will only strengthen Rama and make him a ‘king’ with a mega comfortable majority in parliament without the opposition.

Meanwhile her other female colleague and former Speaker of Parliament Jozefina Topalli said to the media this morning that it had been 3 weeks that she had ‘requested a meeting of the democratic parliamentary group to discuss the electoral and parliamentary boycott, without any success.

In parallel, DP founder and senior exponent Eduard Selami said the current decision to boycott parliamentary elections in June will only harm the DP and its future.

I have noticed that Mr. Basha used the protest tent not as a peaceful means of protesting, by using a populist and inappropriate rhetoric he sidelined institutions and boycotted parliament at a crucial moment when we needed to vote on justice reform, vital for Albania’s European integration path. Moreover, the unprecedented line of boycotting upcoming elections will be very damaging to Albania and to the Democratic Party itself.” – said Selami for the Voice of America tonight., adding that Basha has taken the entire democratic party hostage.

The rebellious positions come as the center-left majority of socialists with their junior partner LSI have vowed to enter elections without the opposition, after granting them several chances to negotiate on guarantees for free and fair elections.

The democratic party and its smaller allies have been boycotting parliament for more than two months and have now missed all three constitutional deadlines to register for upcoming June elections, asking for the resignation of prime minister Edi Rama and the creation of a technical government.

However, PM Rama has constantly insisted that he is prepared to talk on any options but his premiership is not for bargaining.

After EU mediated talks last week with European Parliament mediators David McAllister and Knut Fleckenstein not managing to get a  concrete agreement between the two sides , DP chairman Lulzim Basha gathered his supporters and warned Albania should prepare for civil disobedience as the country’s prime minister Edi Rama refuses to step down.

However, days later, the center -left majority elected current Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta in the position of President of the Republic after three failed rounds of voting, and vowed to go it alone to general elections without the opposition.

The ‘forcing through’ of Meta’s election as President by Rama’s socialists, will only deepen the rift between the two allies who will run separate electoral campaigns without any pre-electoral coalition deal agreed.

The opposition Democratic Party risks losing their chance to participate at June 18 elections amid growing international isolation for their boycott strategy.

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