Albania Opposition throws in new conditions before the crucial vetting of judges and prosecutors can start

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Sali Berisha & Lulzim Basha sitting down with DP protesters at Tirana's main boulevard

Tirana, Albania | Tirana Echo – Albania’s opposition leader Lulzim Basha has said there can be no vetting unless there’s a technical government and a revision of the 7 vetting laws already passed in parliament is ensured.

The statement marks an escalation between Albania’s opposition democrats and the socialist PM Edi Rama, as the surprise request to revise the already approved seven laws of the Justice Reform adds to existing demands for the PM’s resignation and formation of a technical government.

This majority which fears the justice reform, proposes today 29 candidates for 27 positions, meaning there are no elections, only appointments. Edi Rama and Ilir Meta want to appoint people themselves, instead of leaving the place to those who are uncorrupted and the best. Who does a justice system captured by Edi Rama serves? We cannot accept this!” – said Basha in front of hundreds of protesters at Tirana’s main boulevard.

The opposition democrats have been protesting for almost a week in front of the PM office and have entered a parliamentary boycott, asking for Edi Rama’s resignation and the formation of a technical government which would guarantee free and fair election on the 18th June.

Last night’s statement adds fears that the Democratic Party plans to escalate their protest in the coming days, as Parliament gets ready to vote on the first names of the ‘Vetting’ institutions to be established.

The European Union has condemned the boycott of parliament at this crucial moment of the implementation of justice reform in Albania, in what is seen by many member states as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.

However, in defiance to EU officials, DP chairman Basha said the protest and parliamentary boycott would not be halted and if necessary the issue would be solved ‘together with the citizens’ – hinting at mass protests across the country.

If they are not afraid of the Vetting, I tell them that immediately after a pact for a technical government to serve for free elections, an the revisions of the 7 laws, they would be welcomed to implement the vetting process, and we can see who really is afraid of an independent justice” – said Basha.

As the opposition democrats continue to radicalize their political action, the European Commission, which has recommended to EU member states the opening of membership accession talks with Albania, expects the country’s political class to start implementing the reform of its corrupt justice system and hold free and fair elections in June.
The opposition, which boycotted voting of the vetting law last August, asked the Constitutional Court in October for its suspension, saying the government wants to use the process to influence judicial appointments. However, the Constitutional Court, after referral of the law yo the Venice Commission, declared last December that the Vetting Law was constitutional, clearing the path for its implementation

The Democratic Party later boycotted a parliamentary vote on six other laws which make up the package of judicial reform, approved unanimously in July 2016 by all 140 Members of the Albanian Parliament and considered as the main tool to persuade the European Union to launch membership negotiations.

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