TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s political parties reached a compromise Thursday, postponing next month’s parliamentary election by a week following intensive talks mediated by a senior U.S. official.
After a three-hour meeting that ended at dawn, Prime Minister Edi Rama of the governing Socialist Party and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party told reporters they had reached a deal.
Hours later, political parties announced specifics, saying they agreed to hold the polls on June 25 instead of June 18. The president was then asked to issue a decree to postpone the election date by a week.
Opposition parties can register their candidates until May 26.
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The agreement included that senior opposition officials can monitor the election process. The opposition has boycotted parliament since February, blocking the launch of judicial reforms, and refused to register for the election.
They would have unlimited access to election material and also offer nominations for the head of the main election authority and the People’s Advocate posts.
The opposition would also have its nominees as “technical ministers” for the posts of interior, education, health, social wellbeing, finance and justice, and also a deputy prime minister, including four other department heads in top public posts.
The parties also agreed for a thorough vetting of election candidates, and also include the opposition in the government task force in the fight against drug trafficking, a major issue in the country.
Local mayoral elections in a western town, cancelled earlier this month fearing political confrontation, would be held the same day as the June 25 parliamentary elections.
The agreement was achieved following intensive mediation this week by European lawmakers, and especially U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee and U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu.
Previous efforts by European and U.S. officials had failed to convince the Democrats to change their position that they wouldn’t take part in the election, fearing that Rama’s Cabinet would manipulate the vote.
The U.S., European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will monitor Albania’s election, hailed the agreement.
Two German lawmakers who wrote the compromise proposal, David McAllister and Knut Fleckenstein of the center-right and left-wing groupings at the European Parliament, said they were “delighted that the EU and US mediation to end the political crisis in ALB has been successful.”