Albania’s President Meta postpones local elections, protests continue

Ilir Meta; Photo: Albanian Parliament

TIRANA – President of Albania Ilir Meta announced the cancellation of the local elections scheduled for 30 June on Saturday, as the eighth nation-wide opposition protest was taking place.

On Monday morning, the President justified his decision by stressing that, since the opposition parties refused to participate in the elections, they would be fictitious and false.

Meta expressed his readiness to decide on another election date, after dialogue and consultations with all political parties, while calling for reflection and collaboration between the majority and the opposition.

“Parties should reflect for the future of Albania and in the support of the interest of the Albanian people. They should not think about themselves anymore”, he stated, Albanian Daily News report.

Meta’s decision was supported by the vice chair of CDU group in German parliament Johann Wadephul, who said in a press statement that the parties should accept the dialogue, since everything else would be anti-European and represent an obstacle to the country’s integration process.

Meta also reminded that, according to Albania’s constitution, the President is the only one who can decree elections date and without a date proposed by him/her, neither local nor parliamentary elections can be held.

This implies that, despite the apparent willingness of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government to hold the elections anyway, there is no legal basis for such an action.

According to Radio Tirana International, few minutes after Meta’s statement, the Prime Minister’s responded, saying that he expected Meta’s decision to cancel the elections.

But the head of the government added that he is convinced that June 30 will still be the date of the local elections. “The elections are not the parties, neither of the president, but of the Albanian people”, said the Prime Minister, who expressed his intention to carry on with the campaign on Sunday.

On the other hand, leader of the opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha welcomed the decision as opposition’s victory, accusing Rama once again that he had won the 2017 parliamentary elections by vote theft and urged him to step down.

Opposition held its eighth national anti-government protests on Saturday. Unlike mostly peaceful events in other countries of the region, Montenegro and Serbia, the protesters in Tirana once again clashed with the police. US and EU repeated their call for avoiding the violence and urged the Democratic Party to assume the dialogue with the ruling Socialists.