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News 11 Apr 17

Albania Opposition Parties to Boycott June Elections

The main opposition Democratic Party and its allies have refused to register to take part in the June 18 general election - after the deadline to register expired on Monday.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Ballot boxes stored in Tirana. Photo: cec.org.al

Opposition parties in Albania led by Democratic Party will not be participating in the June 18 election unless their demands for Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama to step down and for the formation of a new interim government are met.

On Monday, the Central Commission for the Election, KQZ, announced that the deadline for political parties to register as participants in the election had expired. April 10 was set as the deadline to register in accordance with article 64 of the electoral code.

"Every political party must deliver a request to register as an electoral subject to the KQZ no later than 70 days before the date of the election," it reads.

The Democrats' leader, Lulzim Basha on Sunday said none of the main political parties in opposition would register for the election.

"The opposition is not going to register for elections that are going to be a facade. We are not going to have election dictated by crime. These are the last moments of the old republic, soon it will be history," Basha told his followers gathered in a tent that the opposition has erected as part of an ongoing street protest.

On Monday, the joint opposition said they would also boycott the local elections to be held in Kavaja municipality on May 7, after the former mayor, Elvis Roshi, was dismissed after it was found that he had hidden his criminal past convictions.

"The decision of the joint opposition is to have a big national protest in Kavaje on May 7, to make these farcical elections dictated by crime impossible through a democratic and peaceful protest," Basha said.

Prime Minister Rama on Sunday - in his weekly communication from his live streaming channel in Facebook - said the opposition was using the election boycott to keep the country in crisis and away from the path towards EU integration.

"Nobody can have any illusion that the Albanians are going to be impeded from choosing their future on June 18," Rama said.

Clirim Gjata, a former chairman of KQZ and an expert on elections, told BIRN that things would be legally complicated if the opposition parties did not register by the Monday deadline.

"The electoral code is clear; if you do not register 70 days as a party before elections, you practically will not be able to participate in the elections, even as a part of a coalition," he said.

"This crisis requires compromise, since going into an election only with parties of the majority doesn't seem like a good option," he continued.

Gjata said postponing the election was the best idea.

"If they reach a compromise on postponing the date of the election, then, as a result, other deadlines foreseen in the electoral code are postponed," Gjata explained.

He recalled a precedent for this, when he was heading the KQZ, in 2007, when the local elections scheduled for January were conducted in February instead, after the then Socialist opposition demanded more administrative security.

By Monday, a total of 32 parties had registered with the KQZ to participate in June 18 elections.

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