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News 20 Feb 17

Albanian Opposition Erect Tent to Press Election Demands

Ahead of elections due in June, opposition supporters have started an ongoing protest in a tent in front of the Prime Minister's office, boycotting parliament and pressing their demand for the formation of a technical government to supervise the elections.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Opposition tent. Photo: Gent Shkullaku/LSA

Albania's main opposition parties led by the Democratic Party demanded the formation of a technical government that would then ensure a new free and fair election on June 18. In the meantime, the Democrats announced a complete boycott of parliament until their demand is fulfilled.

Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha, while commemorating the 26th anniversary of the mass protests that toppled Albania's communist dictatorship, said they would continue their protest indefinitely.

"We are here to continue the path toward modern democracy that was opened 26 years ago by the Albanian people. We are here today to tell Edi Rama to go. We want a technical government that will bring free and fair elections," Basha said on Monday.

Following a major anti-government protest on Saturday, the opposition has started an ongoing protest, erecting a big tent in the main boulevard of Tirana in front of the Prime Minister's office, vowing not to vacate the tent until Edi Rama has resigned.

Inside the tent, opposition representatives passed the time on Monday by listening to political speeches, singing and playing cards and chess.

...

On Sunday, during his weekly online conversation with citizens on Facebook, Rama said that he would resign in time but only in order to seek another term in government.

"I respect everybody who has participated in the protest and who didn't vote for us but we cannot take a single step back when it comes to our duty of building a modern state in the fulfillment of the mandate that we got from the citizens ... [and] we are going to ask to them for another mandate," Rama said.

He also said that while the ruling centre-left parties were dedicated to organizing a free and fair election, it was the opposition parties that boycotted parliament's ad hoc commission on electoral reform some weeks ago.

Rama said he also considered the protest an attempt by the opposition to block the important judicial reform process and so save their favourite judges and prosecutors from the vetting process.

Representatives of the opposition have also asked the junior party in Rama's government, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, to abandon the coalition and to support the demand for a technical government.

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