Observers Suggest Foreign Mediation for Albania’s Crisis

Amid continuing opposition protests for a caretaker government to take the country to elections in June, analysts suggested that international mediation could be necessary to end the crisis.

Opposition Lulzim Basha protesting in Tirana. Photo: Lulzim Basha/Facebook.

Political analysts in Tirana said they believe that internationally-mediated negotiations between the government and the opposition are needed to defuse the crisis as the country heads for parliamentary elections on June 18.

Since February 18, the opposition Democratic Party led by Lulzim Basha have been protesting in Tirana.

They have set up a large protest tent in front of the Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office and have been boycotting all parliamentary activities.

The opposition wants a technical government to be formed without Rama as premier in order to secure free and fair elections.

They also want anyone with a criminal past to be forced out of politics, an efficient war on drugs and money coming from criminal activities, and for judicial reforms to be carried out according to their own prescription.

Analysts believe that a technical government without Rama is not likely, but there could be other ways to resolve the standoff.

Afrim Krasniqi, the director of the Albanian Institute for Political Studies, told BIRN that the opposition needs political and electoral assurances and the government could provide them.

“Part of a political pact could be the implementation of the [currently stalled] vetting law [to check on judges’ and prosecutors’ assets and decisions], the resignations of officials who run public offices… a scrutiny process for clearing people with a criminal past out of politics and a thorough monitoring of the police’s role during elections,” he said.

Krasniqi believes that a possible pact could also extend to negotiations on parliament’s decision about who will serve as the country’s next president.

Mimoza Kociu the director of the ‘Politica’ programme on ABC News TV, told BIRN that she also believes that international partners could broker a dialogue between government and opposition in order to end the crisis.

“The only way for the situation to be resolved is the involvement of an international referee,” Kociu argued.

“Unfortunately, Albanian politics is not mature enough and needs a non-Albanian speaker as a referee to find consensus,” she added.

Kociu said she believes that the key for success is political will on both sides.

The opposition protest has brought the implementation of the judicial reform to a standstill.

The vetting process for 800 judges and prosecutors has stalled as result of the opposition MPs boycotting the reform commission.

Analysts suggest that if the crisis continue, even the next elections could be at risk.

On Sunday, Rama changed four of his ministers , saying that they need to focus on the electoral campaign.

Analysts believe that he was trying to indicate to the opposition that he was getting rid of people it had accused of poor performance, but his opponents were not impressed and called for Rama to quit instead.