Albania’s opposition leader vows to continue protest, despite EPP calls in Malta to return to Parliament

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Lulzim Basha delivers a speech at the EPP congress in Malta

Tirana, Albania | Tirana Echo – Albania’s opposition leader Lulzim Bashahas vowed to continue his opposition protest despite EPP leaders urging the return to institutional and parliamentary life.

Basha signaled the continuation of his frustrating battle on upcoming elections, after returning from the European People’s Party (EPP) Congress in Malta this week where he met with several European conservative leaders.

Several analysts expected Basha to be persuaded by EPP representatives to halt his parliamentary boycott and prepare for general elections, but during his speech at the EPP Congress in Malta, the Albanian Democratic Party chairman told European conservatives that upcoming elections in Albania are at risk of being manipulated by the social-democratic government.

We are protesting since the 18th of February because politics in Albania is strongly linked to organized crime and we cannot have free and fair elections without a technical government, which can implement the decriminalization law and fight the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics,” said Basha to his EPP colleagues.

While he met with several European conservative leaders including European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Hungary’s PM Victor Orban, the European family of centre-right parties, while recognizing the need for free and fair elections, condemned  the parliamentary boycott initiated by the Democratic Party in Albania.

In a special resolution on the Western Balkans, although no countries were mentioned by name, EPP leaders encouraged “all political forces to take full part in the democratic processes and institutions of their respective countries and to focus on the structural reforms which their economies urgently need. while stressing the need and urgency in the Western Balkans to move forward with  judicial reform, establishing rule of law and an independent  and  transparent judiciary.”

The EPP also called for the decriminalization process of the political establishment to be further enhanced and asked the WB countries to intensify their efforts in fighting corruption on all levels.

However, speaking to his DP militants today in Tirana’s ‘protest tent’, Basha said there were zero chances that the opposition would accept a puppet technical government while adding that Europol would help with identifying criminal elements in Albania’s government.

“We will not accept a technical government as a bargaining chip to deceive Albanians . We will not return without a victory from our battle for free and fair elections. This means full implementation of decriminalization law. We have agreed with Europol director Rob Wainright to verify finger prints of Albanian criminal officials and politicians. Every criminal will be removed from public duty before this country holds general elections,” – said Basha this morning in Tirana.

The DP and other opposition parties have been protesting for over 40 days in front of the PM office in Tirana demanding Edi Rama’s resignation and the formation of a credible technical government which would guarantee free and fair elections in June.

However as deadlines for registering as an electoral subject at the Central Elections Committee approach in April, questions are being raised on the possibility of postponing the June 18th general elections, while the country could be gripped by a rapidly growing institutional and constitutional crisis, as Albania this year holds both parliamentary and presidential elections.

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