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News 18 Jan 17

New Movements Emerge Ahead of Albanian Elections

Five months before general elections in Albania, several new political movements and parties have been founded, vowing to challenge the country’s political establishment.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian Bee movement founders. Photo: LSA/Malton Dinra

The Albanian Bee [Bleta Shqiptare] political movement was launched on Tuesday in Tirana, presenting a manifesto that urged Albanians to take action to create a better future for the country after the disappointments caused by the political parties that have governed the country since the end of Communism.

The anti-establishment movement, which might turn into a political party, is being formed five months before the parliamentary elections set for June 18.

Its manifesto called for the establishment of a “modern state” based on the rule of law, with an uncorrupted public administration as a prerequisite for later joining the EU.

“We have to strengthen our state first and later deal with the EU - we are not ready for it yet,” the manifesto says.

Three of the movement’s founders are Albanians from the diaspora who have returned after living in the United States for years.

One of them, Shenasi Rama, is a well-known former activist from the student movement at the beginning of the 1990s that helped topple the Communist regime in Albania.

After decades working as a political science professor at New York University, NYU, Rama told at the movement’s launch on Tuesday that he believes that Albania is now at a critical point.

"We have to be together and discuss how we can get out of this situation, at a time where our country has been governed by people who have stolen and made Albanians immigrate. We have to stop this from happening anymore," he said.

Another of the founders, Grid Rroji, a former United Nations employee in New York, said that it was time to make people reflect on the failure of the country to establish itself as a successful democracy three decades since the end of Communism.

"We have massive corruption, people that want to leave the country and a political class that doesn't secure a normal life or any dignity for their people," Rroji said.

The third founder, Valentina Karanxha, a former student who participating in protests that brought the end of the Communist regime, told the launch via Skype from the US told that the movement’s manifesto was a gateway to the revival of the country’s political mentality and a call for Albanians to wake up.

Albanian Bee is the third political movement to be launched in advance of the upcoming elections.

Ben Blushi, a long-time critic of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, left Rama's governing Socialist Party, and together with former Socialist MP Mimoza Hafizi formed Libra, which they described as a new anti-establishment party, in November.

In January, Gjergj Bojaxhi, the former head of Albania’s energy company, set up Sfida, a party that also aims to oppose the political establishment.

NOTE: This article was amended on January 27 to say Shenasi Rama has been working as a political science professor at New York University, NYU. The previous version erroneously said Mr Rama worked at Columbia University in New York.

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