Albanian opposition parties, led by the Democratic Party (DP), have announced that they will not take part in the parliamentary elections due on the 18th of June. Parties are required to register with the Central Election Commission 70 days before the elections take place. The DP failed to meet this deadline on the 10th of April. The opposition parties announced that they would also be boycotting local elections, due to be held in the city of Kavaja on the 7th of May, and are planning a national protest. The mayor of Kavaja, Elvis Roshi, was dismissed after information about his criminal past surfaced.
Opposition’s call for fair elections
Lulzim Basha, leader of the Democratic Party, defended the decision not to register for the parliamentary elections by saying: "The opposition is not going to register for elections that are going to be a facade. We are not going to have election dictated by crime. These are the last moments of the old republic, soon it will be history." On the planned protest he said the motive behind it was "to make the farcical elections dictated by crime impossible through a democratic and peaceful protest".
Since February the opposition has been boycotting the parliament, preventing the start of judicial reforms required to start accession talks with the European Union. The DP has accused the government of having links to organised crime and not fighting it actively, to boost their chances in the June election.
Prime Minister Rama (Socialist Party, SPA) said the opposition is using the election boycott to keep the country in crisis and away from the path towards EU integration. He previously accused the opposition of boycotting the parliament to obstruct the reform process, in order to prevent certain judges from being vetted. The European Commission said they plan to closely follow the June 18 election as "it is very important that we see well-prepared, free and fair elections," according to a spokesperson. In another reaction the EU called upon the opposition to return to the parliament.