Albanian opposition to rally against government over judicial reforms and accusations of election-rigging

Albanian opposition to rally against government over judicial reforms and accusations of election-rigging

Albania’s opposition Democratic Party and Movement for Social Integration will rally against the Socialist Party-led government in Tirana today. Demonstrators

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Photo: Reuters

Albania’s opposition Democratic Party and Movement for Social Integration will rally against the Socialist Party-led government in Tirana today.

Demonstrators will demand that Prime Minister Edi Rama resign and a transitional cabinet led by the opposition take the reins. Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha accuses PM Rama of rigging the 2017 parliamentary elections—which saw the Socialist Party win an outright majority—and abusing his power in pursuing aggressive judicial and property law reforms.

Today’s development marks the latest event in a string of anti-government actions. On Thursday, a lawmaker threw a jar of ink at PM Rama in parliament in an incident that underlined the deep well of bad blood between government and opposition.

However, Mr Rama’s parliamentary majority should limit any effect on his judicial reforms, which he claims will purge corruption from the legal system and allow Albania to eventually gain accession into the EU. The opposition, meanwhile, alleges that Mr Rama has actually done the opposite by appointing Socialist-sympathetic judges.

The prime minister has scoffed at demands to step down and faces little pressure to do so, as similar protests last year yielded no changes in leadership or policy. His agenda of judicial reforms will thus likely proceed unabated. However, a strong turnout at today’s rally could foreshadow opposition gains in June’s municipal elections.

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