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News 19 May 17

Albania Opposition to Join Govt Ahead of Election

In a political breakthough, Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha have agreed to delay the elections for a week, and on representation of opposition ministers in the cabinet and key institutions. 

Fatjona Mejdini
The leader of the opposition, Lulzim Basha (left) and PM Edi Rama after the Thursday deal. Photo: LSA 

Albania's ruling and opposition parties on Thursday unveiled a package of measures that form part of the deal on all parties taking party in the next elections, which have been postponed to June 25.

Under the terms of the deal, opposition parties will appoint a "technical" vice-prime minister and six ministers, covering the Interior, Health, Education, Welfare and Youth, Finance and Justice.

Opposition representatives will also temporary appoint heads of five important state agencies managing energy distribution, the property register, the agency for legalisation and urbanisation, prisons and the agency for rural development.

As part of the agreement, opposition representatives will also run the Central Electoral Commission and the office of Ombudsman.

The appointments are designed to give the opposition the guarantees it demanded that the next general election will be fair and free. Other measures are expected to be taken in this regard.

"The criminal code will be changed in order to toughen the legislation on buying and selling votes, turning this into an act of corruption," the agreement read.

Two main political camps have also agreed to vote into existence bodies in the current parliament that will vet judges and prosecutors, as part of the judicial reform package.

The agreement reached on Thursday will also be extended after the electoral process in June.

"Constitutional and electoral reform are going to be adopted during the new parliament as well as [reform of] technology when it comes to voting and counting ballots," the agreement read.

The two main political blocs also pledged to strengthen the fight against the drugs trade and drugs cultivation, with the opposition now represented in the national task force tackling narcotics.

The deal, following strong international pressure, has ended a three-month-old opposition boycott of parliament.

In the coming days, opposition parties will now register to participate in the electoral process, after refusing for weeks to do so, while awaiting an agreement to resolve the crisis.

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