The main opposition parties in Albania are preparing for a major protest on Saturday, accusing the government of having links to drug dealers, despite being called 'traitors' to Albania by the Prime Minister.
Albania's opposition Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, have finalised their preparations for a major protest on Saturday in Tirana, demanding the resignation of the Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, who they accuse of engaging in drug smuggling.
After the opposition Democratic Party on Monday published an intercepted phone call, which it claimed shows the Interior Minister's brother is engaged in drug dealing, the government accused it of sabotaging the country's image at a crucial moment.
The opposition Democratic Party on Monday published an intercepted phone call which it claims shows the brother of Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj is engaged in drug dealing. The governing Socialist Party claims the attack on Xhafa aims to forestall the country's EU integration.
Albanian premier Edi Rama’s suggestion that Albania and Kosovo could share the same joint president was described as impractical by analysts in Pristina and strongly condemned by officials in Belgrade.
Analysts in Pristina told BIRN on Monday that Albania and Kosovo should take serious steps towards practical cooperation instead of the idea of a having a joint president, which was suggested by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during a speech to Kosovo MPs the previous day.
Albania’s ruling Socialist Party is being criticised for its attempts to make issuing arrest warrants for MPs facing criminal charges much harder.
Albania's ruling Socialist Party has been criticised over a proposal that would oblige the prosecution to submit incriminating evidence to parliament before an MP can be stripped of immunity and arrested.
Critics say the change would undermine the rule of law and endow parliament with powers that should rest with only with the courts.
TIRANA, June 27/ATA/ – Preliminary election results published by Central Elections Committee (CEC) today show that the Socialist Party heads with 48.41 % votes while 5 105 of ballot boxes are counted out of the remaining 5 362 in total.
CEC preliminary data until 6:20 am result in Socialist Party with 726.290 votes or 48.41%, Democratic Party with 432.885 votes or 28.86%.
Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) is third with 216.330 votes or 14.42%, PJIU fourth with 69.992 votes or 4.67%, LIBRA with 18.363 votes or 1.22%, SDP with 12.914 votes or 0.86%.
Albania's parliament early on Friday adopted long-awaited judicial reforms, after 18 months of technical and political work and days of tense negotiations.
All 140 members of parliament voted in favour of the reform, after negotiations between the three main political leaders led by US ambassador Donald Lu and EU head of delegation Romana Vlahutin on Thursday closed the last remaining disputes over various articles.
A group of 11 MPs in Albania have made a joint call for the President to be elected by direct vote in future.
The initiative is being launched a year before the current President, Bujar Nishani, finishes his five-year term. The political parties leaders have yet to enter the negotiating process of selecting a successor.
The current constitution stipulates that the President of Albania is elected by a vote in parliament. The successful candidate must win three-quarters of MPs' votes, which is 84 out of 140 in total.
Albania’s opposition Democratic party made a criminal complaint against Prime Minister Edi Rama on Monday, accusing him of illegally funneling $80,000 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, in return for a photograph of the two men together.
The Democrats brought the case to the prosecutor general’s office, saying Rama – who was then the opposition leader – paid the money in violation ofUS and Albanian laws to gain access to a campaign event in San Francisco in October 2012.
Though lacking support from the opposition, the Albanian Parliament on Thursday passed a plan to bring a judicial reform package to a vote next month, a dangerous move that could bring down the government.
Lawmakers voted 71-to-38 to bring the matter to a vote before parliament closes its session at the end of July. The package is fundamental to ensuring the European Union will launch membership negotiations with Tirana.
The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday Albania's economic recovery should strengthen this year but warned it not to let government payment arrears grow and risk a repeat of the heavy borrowing when it came to power three years ago.
Reviewing Albania's 330 million euro ($365 million) 36-month programme signed in February 2014, an IMF team said they had reached a staff-level agreement with Albania after finding their economic programme was "broadly on track".
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on the Albanian political forces to pass a judicial reform package, considered fundamental to convince the European Union launch membership negotiations.
Steinmeier, who is to visit Tirana Tuesday, was quoted by the Albanian Mapo daily newspaper as calling on all political forces "to take over overall state responsibility and approve the reform at the parliament without delay."
La jefa de la diplomacia de la Unión Europea, Federica Mogherini, animó hoy a las fuerzas políticas albanesas a adoptar mañana en el Parlamento una reforma judicial que acercará al país a los estándares comunitarios.
"Puede abrir el camino a un nuevo comienzo, y por eso esperamos que todas las fuerzas políticas utilicen mañana la ronda final de consultas para aprobar la propuesta" sobre la reforma judicial, declaró Mogherini en un comunicado.
The European Union is urging Albania to complete a package of judicial reforms if it wants to launch full membership talks with the bloc.
Referencing Albania's upcoming appearance in soccer's European Championship in France, the EU's top official for enlargement Johannes Hahn, said in a statement Tuesday that "the coming days will be decisive whether Albania will advance in the Euro Championship or stays in the group stage."
The leaders of Albania's two main parties, the Prime Minister and Socialist leader, Edi Rama, and Lulzim Basha, chairman of the Democratic Party, are inching towards a meeting this week to find a solution to the deadlock on judicial reform.
As the deadline for Albania to complete judicial reforms needed to open EU accession negotiations comes close to expiring, a meeting between the leaders is seen as urgent, to end the deadlock and enable parliament to pass the reform in June.
Elvis Rroshi, who has been mayor of Kavaja since 2011, resigned on Tuesday, the first senior official to step down after the passing of a law that aims to get people with criminal records out of Albanian politics.
“Today I have to disclose to the public with deepest regret that I have received unexpected information that changes everyything. My lawyers have informed me that, unexpectedly and unknowingly, I have received a conviction [while I was] under age,” Rroshi said in a Facebook post.
Albania's main opposition Democratic Party again has decided to boycott Parliament in response to the legislature's suspension of its former leader, Sali Berisha.
The Democrats on Saturday said they would boycott Parliament for 10 days after Parliament suspended Berisha for 10 days for accusing Prime Minister Edi Rama of direct links to criminals, a charge Rama has denied.
Last month Berisha was sued by the governing Socialist Party for calling on citizens to arm themselves.
The deadline for Albania to complete judicial reforms needed to open European Union accession negotiations is close to expiring, with only one month left before the constitutional changes required for the reform can pass through parliament.
June is last month when parliament - before the recess in July - can vote to pass the amendments that require 93 out of 140 MPs to vote and so open the way for EU bodies to assess Albania's request to open membership negotiation.
However, the political situation remains in deadlock.