Parliament approves caretaker ministers, vetting process

Parliament approves caretaker ministers, vetting process

TIRANA, May 22 – Albania’s parliament held an extraordinary session Monday afternoon to nearly unanimously approve the new government reshuffle based on a landmark deal signed between Prime Minister Edi Rama and leader of the opposition Lulzim Basha before the

Read Full Article
Editorial: Better late than never: A late night agreement to the rescue

Editorial: Better late than never: A late night agreement to the rescue

Last night, the leaders of the two major parties in Albania, Edi Rama, Prime Minister and Head of the Socialist Party, and Lulzim Basha, Head of the Democratic Party and head of the Albanian opposition coalition, seemed to have reached

Read Full Article
Op-Ed: The French saved Europe – to strengthen it, bring the focus back to the Balkans

Op-Ed: The French saved Europe – to strengthen it, bring the focus back to the Balkans

If France was the battleground that saved Europe’s soul, the Western Balkans is where the continent can save its united future in peace and stability. By ANDI BALLA If 2017 was the make-or-break year for a united Europe, then the

Read Full Article
Basha-Rama deal ends Albania’s political crisis ahead of the elections

Basha-Rama deal ends Albania’s political crisis ahead of the elections

TIRANA, May 18 – Albania’s political crisis ended early Thursday morning following an agreement by Prime Minister Edi Rama and main opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha based on proposals by U.S. and EU officials that stipulate the participation of

Read Full Article
Seeking PM’s resignation, opposition set for ‘the largest rally ever’

Seeking PM’s resignation, opposition set for ‘the largest rally ever’

TIRANA, May 11 – Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party is to hold a large show-of-force protest rally on Saturday, expected to be “the largest ever,” according the DP’s leader Lulzim Basha. He denied there would be any violence, despite tensions,

Read Full Article
Editorial: Worrying scenarios on the horizon for Albania

Editorial: Worrying scenarios on the horizon for Albania

Looking to solve the ongoing political crisis in Albania, some high level international representatives visiting from both European members states and the United States are making last resort attempts to find a compromise between the two sides, keeping a flicker

Read Full Article
Minister admits to potential ties between police and organized crime

Minister admits to potential ties between police and organized crime

TIRANA, May 9 – Minister of Interior Affairs Fatmir Xhafaj said this week several police officials were likely bribed to cooperate or stay silent in order to help organized crime manage its marijuana cultivation and trafficking. “Particular individuals from the

Read Full Article
€24 mln seized in suspected money laundering accounts, assets

€24 mln seized in suspected money laundering accounts, assets

TIRANA, May 11 – Albanian law enforcement authorities seized more than €8 million in suspected money laundering transfers and accounts in 2016, a considerable part of which originating from narcotics trafficking and cultivation, according to an annual report by the

Read Full Article
Arrest of author who threatened EU ambassador sparks debate on media ethics

Arrest of author who threatened EU ambassador sparks debate on media ethics

TIRANA, May 10 – Kastriot Myftaraj, a controversial author and conspiracy theorist, has spent the night under arrest after publishing an article in which he appeared to call for the assassination of the EU ambassador in Albania, Romana Vlahutin. He

Read Full Article
Albania’s new president: A window for solving the crisis and new opportunities for beyond

Albania’s new president: A window for solving the crisis and new opportunities for beyond

Ilir Meta was elected as the country’s new president in a vote conducted without the opposition in the Albanian parliament. He received 87 votes out of the 89 present MPs who participated in the process having so the entire constitutional

Read Full Article
WP_Query Object
(
    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 52
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [static] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [category_name] => premium
            [tag] => 
            [tag_id] => 
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [paged] => 0
            [comments_popup] => 
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 1
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [post_type] => 
            [posts_per_page] => 10
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => 52
                                )

                            [include_children] => 1
                            [field] => term_id
                            [operator] => IN
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [post_count] => 10
    [current_post] => -1
    [in_the_loop] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [current_comment] => -1
    [found_posts] => 227
    [max_num_pages] => 23
    [max_num_comment_pages] => 0
    [is_single] => 
    [is_preview] => 
    [is_page] => 
    [is_archive] => 1
    [is_date] => 
    [is_year] => 
    [is_month] => 
    [is_day] => 
    [is_time] => 
    [is_author] => 
    [is_category] => 1
    [is_tag] => 
    [is_tax] => 
    [is_search] => 
    [is_feed] => 
    [is_comment_feed] => 
    [is_trackback] => 
    [is_home] => 
    [is_404] => 
    [is_comments_popup] => 
    [is_paged] => 
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 56fcf78e971a595f38bde56813df0b35
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 
    [thumbnails_cached] => 1
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [query] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 52
        )

    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (52) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 10
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132522
                    [post_author] => 5
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-23 11:54:25
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-23 09:54:25
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 22 - Albania’s parliament held an extraordinary session Monday afternoon to nearly unanimously approve the new government reshuffle based on a landmark deal signed between Prime Minister Edi Rama and leader of the opposition Lulzim Basha before the country’s parliamentary elections scheduled for June 25.

Following the deal, the parliament also approved the remaining laws and regulations for the vetting process of judges and prosecutors that are part of the justice reform. 

Several other parts of the Rama-Basha deal were also approved by the lawmakers, including handing the leadership of the Central Elections Commission to the opposition.

The session marked the return of the Democrats to assembly, three months after their anti-government protests that kicked off in February. 

The parliament was summoned following the decrees of President Bujar Nishani of the new deputy prime minister and six other ministers. 

The Democratic Party recommended Ledina Mandia as Albania’s new deputy prime minister. Mandja has held the post of State Advocate and advisor to President Nishani.  

The former commander of the Special Army Units, Dritan Demiraj, has been appointed interior minister while the director general of the Court of Audit, Helga Vukaj will be Albania’s new minister of finances, replacing Arben Ahmetaj.  

President-elect Ilir Meta voted against Ahmetaj’s replacement but in favor of the discharge of Petrit Vasili as Minister of Justice. Ahmetaj discharge received 107 votes in favor and 3 against whereas Vasili’s dismissal received 102 votes in favor. 

Gazmend Bardhi will be Minister of Justice, Mirela Karabino will be Minister of Education replacing Lindita NIkolla , Arben Beqiri will be minister of Health, while Xhulieta Kertusha will be the minister of Social Welfare, replacing Olta Xhacka. 

The Central Election Commission will be chaired by Klement Zguri while Erinda Ballanca will be the country’s new Ombudsman. 

Lawmakers also approved the establishment of the vetting commissions and legal amendments to electoral reform 

The government reshuffle was the result of an agreement signed by the country’s two key political leaders which saw the postponement of elections to June 25.  

Prime Minister Rama said that the new ministers will be “the custodians of Albania’s electoral ethics,” and will make sure that “the administration will not be misused during elections.” 

This is Albania’s third provisional government with representatives of both left and right wing parties.

Back in 1991, the country’s first caretaker government was headed by Vilson Ahmeti while the second was established in 1997, as Albania was engulfed by popular unrest as a result of electoral fraud and Ponzi schemes. 
                    [post_title] => Parliament approves caretaker ministers, vetting process
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => parliament-approves-caretaker-ministers-vetting-process
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-23 11:54:49
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-23 09:54:49
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132522
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [1] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132478
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-19 11:10:33
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-19 09:10:33
                    [post_content] => Last night, the leaders of the two major parties in Albania, Edi Rama, Prime Minister and Head of the Socialist Party, and Lulzim Basha, Head of the Democratic Party and head of the Albanian opposition coalition, seemed to have reached a final agreement after a protracted political crises that risked the boycott of general elections by the opposition.

Details of the agreement are yet to be made public. A sigh of relief on being rescued from dark potential scenarios, which this paper has outlined in previous editorials, was palpable almost all over. Many people watched on their screens, with mixed feelings of disappointment, that their life is still hostage to these political games, and of joy that the worst had been avoided.

As the two key politicians were leaving the parliament, they stopped for a moment at the gate to talk to the waiting journalists. It was exactly these journalists, camped there and waiting patiently to do their jobs, exhausted and yet excited to see the two key figures come out together, that insisted to ask them to please shake hands. A swift handshake with a very casual movement followed. It was unfelt yet the journalists applauded and laughed with relief.  Their exasperated joy was so symbolic of the popular sentiment of the times of the ordinary citizens that do not count themselves among party activists in this deeply politicized society.  

The agreement feels still vulnerable, feeble, and delicate. It feels like things could go wrong again, easily, quickly. Details have still to be ironed out.  A lot of water has gone under the bridge, much of the trust and basic ethics has been violated between sides. People on both camps have been polarized to the extreme in these tough days. Many others have joined the ranks of cynics giving up all hope in the political development of the country, abstaining, refusing to participate. The recovery will be tough.

However, if the agreement truly falls in line with the proposals of European and American envoys, it will provide some key open opportunities for the development of democracy in Albania, for the strengthening of accountability, the progress in implementing the decriminalization process as well as invest new positive energy into the country’s European integration process which is sorely stuck.

The elections shall be so much better, more representative and with a real potential of pushing forward a good agenda for Albanian citizens of all sides.

Good news from Albania’- tweeted European MPs today in reaction to the agreement. In comparison to their enthusiasm, the feeling in Albania is more cautious. In spite of this there is room for optimism. We might really be, finally, out of the woods.

 
                    [post_title] => Editorial: Better late than never: A late night agreement to the rescue
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => editorial-better-late-than-never-a-late-night-agreement-to-the-rescue
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-19 11:10:33
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-19 09:10:33
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132478
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [2] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132464
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-19 10:30:27
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-19 08:30:27
                    [post_content] => If France was the battleground that saved Europe's soul, the Western Balkans is where the continent can save its united future in peace and stability.

By ANDI BALLA

franceIf 2017 was the make-or-break year for a united Europe, then the French presidential election marked the decisive moment on whether a trend of nationalism and populism that swiped around the world in 2016 would be able to create a large enough tsunami to wipe away the European Union. Luckily, French voters decided that an anti-establishment vote need not be an anti-EU vote, saving not only the European Union in the process, but also the positive sense of a shared destiny and belonging for Europeans around the continent. Most experts could see that while the European Union could survive Brexit – the departure of a member state that was not a founding member and due to its history and location always kept the union at arms length – it would not survive without France, one of the main pillars of the union.

So when the French elected the pro-EU Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen, the French version of extremist nationalists and populists, pro-EU people everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. A united Europe had been saved.

And perhaps nowhere was that relief deeper than in Southwestern Europe, and the Western Balkans in particular, where the strength of European Union had been for more than a decade the best guarantor of peace and stability, even-though most of the countries of the region are not yet members of the European Union.

Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are all fragile states with a history of conflict and undemocratic rule. They are poor by EU standards, and the people are largely not happy with the their leaders or their economic opportunities. The only thing that kept them for more than a decade stable and away from thoughts of taking over the neighbors was the idea of becoming members of the European Union – what the people of Southeast Europe have seen as a borderless, wealthy utopia unlikely to become a reality for the region for a generation or two, but which is something to aspire to nonetheless.

Then the global economic crisis and the populists came with their us-vs-them rhetoric. The “us” became the wealthy and advanced countries of the European Northwest and the “them” became the unfair image of the backward, conflict-prone peoples of the Southeast. It is no wonder then that the first reaction of the European Union leaders was to make sure to tell European voters enlargement in the Balkans was no longer a priority and would not take place for more than a decade. While the message was technically true, EU experts don't believe that the Western Balkan countries would not be able to meet the criteria to become EU members for another decade or so, the image it created in the Balkans was that an EU in crisis means there is no point of trying any longer, and so old troubles started to resurface.

One after another the states fell into differing modes of crisis, with the worst case scenarios starting to pop up again – a potential civil war in Macedonia, a Serb army intervention in Kosovo, a coup in Montenegro, a break up of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the perpetual deeply divisive political environment that has kept Albania weak since the fall of communism. Without the hope of a European future, what point is there to be stable and good?

To be fair, EU leaders and diplomats kept up a good front. “The EU door is open for the region” was the most repeated talking point. There was only one problem with the rhetoric. The talking points were identical to those spelled out 15 years ago -- there was no real progress. And thus, the idea of waiting forever and frustration started to take root. Many people people in the region no longer believe the European utopia is going to be available to them in their lifetime and thus are increasingly removing the pro-EU pressure from their leaders – many of whom pay lip service to a shared European future but show little interest in abiding by the best values of democracy and fairness EU brings forward. 

To make things worse, the region risks becoming a new football pitch for geopolitical players. The United States, which for decades has played a key stabilizing role and a helpful hand to move Balkan countries toward the European Union has become distracted by its own populist upheaval with the recent presidential elections and their aftermath. Several visits in the region by U.S. officials and lawmakers have not done enough to alleviate regional fears that the United States might not be able to have as strong of a role as it has in the past. On the other hand, the region is clearly seen by Russia as a place where it can have an influence as a counterbalance to those in the region hoping for a Euro-Atlantic future. Nowhere is that influence stronger than in countries like Serbia and other Serb-inhabited areas of the Balkans, where there is a historical affinity with Moscow. 

The good news this month is that the European Union is here to stay and can only grow stronger and better from this point. For the Western Balkans that is paramount. The next should be an immediate and strong focus by the European Union on the Western Balkans, tied to a firm admission date promise for its members. Delaying endlessly is not an option. If France was the battleground that saved Europe's soul, the Western Balkans is where the continent can save its united future in peace and stability.

twitter.com/andiballa
                    [post_title] => Op-Ed: The French saved Europe – to strengthen it, bring the focus back to the Balkans
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-french-saved-europe-to-strengthen-it-bring-the-focus-back-to-the-balkans
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-22 16:22:22
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-22 14:22:22
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132464
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [3] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132450
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-18 15:44:42
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-18 13:44:42
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 18 – Albania’s political crisis ended early Thursday morning following an agreement by Prime Minister Edi Rama and main opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha based on proposals by U.S. and EU officials that stipulate the participation of all parties in the parliamentary elections.

At the end of an intense marathon of discussions that lasted over three hours Basha said that the accord is based on the so called “McAllister Plus” package which was offered to parties by the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee and named for an earlier proposal by German MEP David McAllister.

“The agreement will be formalized within 24 hours and then we will make public statements”, Basha said, adding that what was considered impossible in February is now a reality.

"From tomorrow, we will get ready to give Albanians free and fair elections," he said.

Standing next to the opposition leader, Prime Minister Rama said he agreed.

“I agree 100 percent with what Mr. Basha said,” Rama said.

The Democratic Party leader said that the opposition would close its tent erected in front of the Prime Minister’s office building over 90 days ago when the agreement achieved was spelled out and formalized.

As of press time, the agreement is being spelled out, but there is no indication the sides are backing down.

The “McAllister Plus” package includes the parliamentary approval of vetting process, the postponement of the parliamentary election scheduled on June 18, 2017 and several minister posts in charge of the electoral process allocated for the opposition's approval.

The Democrats have reportedly agreed to also participate in the parliamentary commissions which will select the vetting commissions for the country’s 800 judges and prosecutors.

The Democratic Party-led opposition had demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Rama and the formation of a caretaker government for nearly three months. They have also refused to register as electoral entities for the forthcoming elections.

With the new accord, the opposition given up on its quest for a caretaker government and will collaborate with Prime Minister Rama and his ministers in in managing the electoral process.

The accord was welcomed by the international community and foreign embassies in the country.

“Bravo to the Albanian people for their patience and their belief in the strength of Albania’s democracy. Bravo to Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha for their personal leadership and courage in forging this deal. Bravo to colleagues from the European Union, the OSCE and Washington for their steadfast support for Albania. We eagerly look forward to an election with the participation of all of Albania’s political parties,” U.S. Ambassador Donald Lu said in a press release.

The EU Delegation took to Twitter to congratulate Albania on the agreement for free and fair elections saying the accord “is in the best interests of all citizens of the country.”

The new accord means that parliamentary elections will no longer be held on June 18. While it’s up to the parties to detail the modalities of their agreed package, several media outlets report that elections could be set for as late as July 16.

Meanwhile the Electoral College has postponed its ruling on the legitimacy of the electoral rolls submitted by political parties at the CEC, based on a request deposited by the Agrarian Party. Following the latest developments, the Agrarian Party has decided to withdraw its request, saying that June 18 is no longer a legal election date.

Long process led to deal

Political parties had failed many times to reach consensus and resolve the political crisis in the country ahead of the June 18 parliamentary elections. Democratic Party and the Socialist Party held several meetings on Tuesday to discuss about the so called “McAllister Plus” package, tabled by the two European Parliament envoys earlier this month. At first, the main opposition coalition said it had accepted the package.

“Opposition has decided to say ‘Yes’ to the integrated McAllister Plus proposal and it is time for Rama [Prime Minister] also to say ‘Yes’ and pave the way to jointly ensure through dialogue the proposal becomes completely applicable,” the opposition coalition said in its statement.

The Democratic Party said that the McAllister package included the appointment of a deputy PM nominated by the opposition, four caretaker ministers to prevent the misuse of public administration, and the chairmen of Central Election Commission and Ombudsman by the opposition.

The package also included proposals to amend the Electoral Code which would guarantee that elections are free and fair as well as the establishment of a new ministry chaired by the opposition which would enable electronic vote in the future polls.

Some of the proposals include amendments in the bill on transparency for political party financing, tougher penalties for vote rigging and use of public administration in the elections.

Both parties also talked about postponing elections until July 16 and the return of the opposition to parliament to approve the Vetting commissions, part of the judiciary reform.

Postponement of elections was one of the key elements of the package; however, ruling Socialist Party leader and Prime Minister, Edi Rama, had refused to give in and withdrew some of his offers to the opposition and talks failed. He insisted that elections must be held on June 18 and blamed the Democrats of mocking the whole process.

The Socialist Party issued a statement Wednesday, regretting the “opposition’s abuse with the serious and delicate process of talks.”

“The commitment and efforts of our strategic American partners is more than welcomed and is considered as the last chance for the Democratic Party to give up on its blackmail and return to the democratic race,” the statement read.

The Socialist Party said that it strongly supported the last efforts to solve the crisis and awaits the participation of Democratic Party in the elections scheduled for June 18. However, it said that no one is above the Constitution.

“No political party can be bargain with these rules,” the statement read.

 
                    [post_title] => Basha-Rama deal ends Albania's political crisis ahead of the elections
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => basha-rama-deal-ends-albanias-political-crisis-ahead-of-the-elections
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-18 15:44:42
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-18 13:44:42
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132450
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [4] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132392
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-12 11:25:30
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-12 09:25:30
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 11 – Albania's main opposition Democratic Party is to hold a large show-of-force protest rally on Saturday, expected to be “the largest ever,” according the DP's leader Lulzim Basha.

He denied there would be any violence, despite tensions, saying he would bring his own family, including his children, at the rally.       

The large political protest will begin at the Democratic Party headquarters and will end at the Prime Minister’s Office building, with the main demand being that Prime Minister Edi Rama resign to allow a caretaker government to manage the upcoming elections.

The Democratic Party and Basha have been under immense international and domestic pressure to participate in the elections, scheduled for June 18, but they say they won't unless Rama resigns. The Democrats say the Socialist-led government will use money and intimidation from organized crime to rig the elections.

Violence fears dismissed by Basha

The U.S. Embassy has warned its citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution, a common practice ahead of political rallies in Albania.

Last week, former Prime Minister and former Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha did not dismiss the possibility of escalation of the protest and said that the party might face problems to manage the crowds.

“The management of this protest is going to be the biggest problem. Sometimes you can manage the crowd and other times it manages you. This is the problem," Berisha said in an interview for News 24 television.

Basha, on the other hand, has said that the protest would be a “peaceful war to stop crime and drugs from taking the country hostage.”

He said that on May 13, the opposition aims to launch “a new New Republic.”

Appeal at Electoral College to halt elections

Albania's Democratic Party-led opposition has made a last-ditch appeal to the Electoral College to void the decision of the Central Election Commission to accept the list of electoral candidates for 15 political parties, which the opposition says was done in violation of legal deadlines set by the Electoral Code.

The right wing party says that Electoral College must void the CEC decisions and deregister the parties, because the deadline for the submission of electoral rolls was April 28 and not April 29.

The code stipulates that electoral rolls must be submitted 50 days before the elections of June 18.

In his address to the party supporters, Lulzim Basha, the opposition leader said that electoral rolls are illegal and that the whole process is legally collapsed.

Opposition groups led by the Democratic Party have not registered for the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 18. They have accused the ruling majority of trying to rig the elections.

It has been 84 days since the opposition has boycotted parliament and launched an ongoing anti-government rally demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Last month, the Democrats staged a nationwide protest blocking main roads for over an hour. They also had plans to organize a rally on May 7 in Kavaja as the city was supposed to elect its mayor. However, the ruling majority canceled the elections over fears of possible acts of violence.
                    [post_title] => Seeking PM’s resignation, opposition set for ‘the largest rally ever’      
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => seeking-pms-resignation-opposition-set-for-the-largest-rally-ever
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-12 11:26:34
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-12 09:26:34
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132392
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [5] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132389
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-12 10:48:24
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-12 08:48:24
                    [post_content] => Looking to solve the ongoing political crisis in Albania, some high level international representatives visiting from both European members states and the United States are making last resort attempts to find a compromise between the two sides, keeping a flicker of hope alive to bring back some semblance of normalcy to the situation. 

The resolve of the internationals to keep pushing is commendable. It comes in the face of the harshest and most vocal rebuttal they have ever witnessed in Albania while attempting to broker dialogue and resolve gridlocks. 

However, most signs would indicate that Albania for the first time after 26 years of democratic elections will enter in an electoral process without the major party of the opposition, in this case the Democratic Party. As the ballots are being printed with a limited number of parties written on them, as the Central Election Committee is distributing public funds for the campaign and exempting the DP from them, all the procedural steps are going onward regardless of the boycott of the opposition. The international community in Tirana including several important western embassies and the mission of the election observers have publicly declared that elections shall be recognized as regular despite the decision of the DP. 

However the scenarios that seem likely for the short and medium term are not very optimistic. The worst case one is the possibility of violence and instability. This scenario foresees violent acts and clashes between opposition militant supporters and other unaffiliated criminal elements with the state police or even worse citizens who will approach voting centers. This seems unlikely given that the boycott of the opposition and the associated rallies have been so far largely peaceful. However, unlikely is not the same as improbable.  Albania is very vulnerable to outburst of violence and would suffer tremendous hazard should this be the case. Politicians who toy with notions of civic disobedience should draw clear red lines and respect them against inciting violence. 

Even if this nightmare does not materialize, the election result will be contested and certainly not representative of the entire fabric of the Albanian citizenry. In this context authoritarianism might find fertile soil to bloom without much concern for check and balances. A grand unconstrained majority will have dangerous leeway to go through with many laws and reforms that will be discussed superficially and passed in a rushed way to use the moment. Elections might need to be repeated sooner than many people think. 

Most importantly, the circular repetition of political gridlock in Albania is more and more resembling a torturous hamster wheel in which the whole society turns exhaustively with no clear perspective in sight. The unstable conditions, the never ending scuffle is an obstacle to economic development as foreign investment as well as strategic projects seek more advantageous conditions present elsewhere.

In addition, given the unfavorable context and the upheaval in the west, both the European Union and in the United States, attention and focus from the international community has been retreating from the entire region. The willingness of the international community to mediate such crisis and tolerate such behavior is on a sharp decline. 

Under these conditions, Albania should forget about receiving a date for the opening of the negotiations and progressing on the path of European integration. 

The aggressive polarization and the lack of consensus over major reforms that are supposed to build the rule of law institutions in Albania are bound to wane support in the ranks of the EU for the country. Even enthusiastic backers of Albania’s candidacy have made this very clear.   

Finally, the Albanian citizens who don’t find themselves in either of the camps are increasingly checking out from the task to determine their political fate, they are turning their back to the television screens and to the ballot box with equal disgust. They are seeking ways to immigrate or live their lives in pursuit of some well being, while pretending that nothing is going on. This rise in disenchantment, apathy and even cynicism will have long term consequences for the democratic development of Albania, far beyond the duration of the current installment of the crisis. 

Given the fact that constitutional and legal time and procedural limits have been exhausted, a compromise regarding this round of elections is farfetched. However, it is not impossible. In the meantime there is much to be done in using opportunities for improving communication, restoring trust and alleviating some of the tension between the political sides. If Albanian politicians don’t want to risk the negative scenario implications they should pay more attention. 

 
                    [post_title] => Editorial: Worrying scenarios on the horizon for Albania
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => editorial-worrying-scenarios-on-the-horizon-for-albania
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-12 10:48:24
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-12 08:48:24
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132389
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [6] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132377
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-12 10:00:03
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-12 08:00:03
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 9 – Minister of Interior Affairs Fatmir Xhafaj said this week several police officials were likely bribed to cooperate or stay silent in order to help organized crime manage its marijuana cultivation and trafficking.

“Particular individuals from the state police have had ties with marijuana cultivators or traffickers. They have been paid for their silence or collaborated with them. I think that some local police directors have kept silence over the phenomenon on purpose,” Xhafaj said in an interview broadcast by a private television station.

In his first interview since his appointment as Minister of Interior Affairs, Xhafaj admitted that several police directors were sacked and transferred on purpose, driven by the government’s fight against drugs.

About 30 police officials were dismissed from duty earlier in April, few weeks after the discovery of 13 tons of dried cannabis hidden in an abandoned warehouse in the Pagri village, Permet district, 240 kilometers south of the capital, Tirana.

Three people were arrested while police officials claimed that the building had been empty when checked by officers in March.

Minister Xhafaj said that police officials had to be aware of the massive amount of drugs hidden in the area.

In the past three years, Albania has become the epicenter of the European drugs trade, especially marijuana. Organized crime and political corruption in the country has increased while the ruling majority has been repeatedly under fire over alleged ties with drug traffickers.

Minister Xhafaj admitted that there is an increase in drug cultivation in the country but says that organized crime dealing with drug trafficking has expanded.

“There is an expansion of criminal activity on the ground. It has moved from a centralized activity happening in a well determined territory popular with production and trafficking of cannabis. After the site was hit, we witnessed a revival of the other criminal groups which flourished to replace the former drug pins,” Xhafa said.

Opposition parties have accused the Socialist-led government of allegedly using drug money to buy off elections, but Minister Xhafaj dismissed these allegations, drawing comparisons with the lawless village of Lazarat, which rose to fame during the Democratic Party-led government.

“How do explain that Lazarat was the home of Democratic Party in the district of Gjirokastra, and yet the Socialist Party won the elections. How do you explain the fact that Socialists lost the elections in Dukagjin area, considered one of the main marijuana cultivation sites,” Xhafaj said.

Last year as police destroyed 2.5 million cannabis plants and identified over 5,024 plantation sites, some of them protected by armed villagers.

The country faces a geographic spread of marijuana. The fact is that the more police destroy marijuana, the more appears to be grown in the country. Authorities recently launched a national five-year strategy against narcotics which aims to boost joint institutional efforts to engage in a frontal fight against narcotics and organized crime.

In addition, the government has okayed the involvement of military in the fight against drug trafficking.

Minister Xhafaj announced that May 15 will mark the beginning of a new aerial inspection mission and police operations on site.

Albania will receive help from Italian authorities to fight the multi-billion-euro industry which has flourished at an unprecedented rate.

Authorities believe that 2017 will be the peak of the fight against narcotics, a phenomenon which has named Albania as a haven for organized crime and drug traffickers

 
                    [post_title] => Minister admits to potential ties between police and organized crime
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => minister-admits-to-potential-ties-between-police-and-organized-crime
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-12 10:09:25
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-12 08:09:25
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132377
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [7] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132358
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-11 12:30:52
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-11 10:30:52
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 11 - Albanian law enforcement authorities seized more than €8 million in suspected money laundering transfers and accounts in 2016, a considerable part of which originating from narcotics trafficking and cultivation, according to an annual report by the country's Financial Intelligence Unit. Another €16 million was seized in real estate assets of suspected criminal origin, says the Agency for the Administration of Seized and Confiscated Assets.

The amount of accounts seized by the prosecutor's offices was about three times lower compared to about €28.7 million seized under precautionary police orders.

While the origin of the proceeds remains unknown for about three-quarters of the 411 cases reported to police and prosecution authorities in 2016, financial intelligence officers say they identified 30 suspected cases where the origin of the proceeds is trafficking of narcotics, 17 cases of fraud, 11 cases of cross-border tax evasion and 10 cases of people with criminal records.

Cannabis cultivation and trafficking has seen a sharp increase in the past couple of years, with its crime proceeds estimated to have been invested in real estate and other money laundering activities.

Albanian police say they destroyed 2.5 million of cannabis plants in 2016 spread over a 213 hectare area nationwide, a 3-fold increase compared to the whole of 2015, making Albania Europe's largest cannabis producer.

Authorities also reported 8 cases of suspected terrorism financing transfers. While the country has not faced any act of terrorism so far, authorities have prevented a few suspected cases and there have been no new reported cases of Albanians travelling to Syria or Iraq to join IS fighters as of 2015.

The amount of accounts and transfers seized in 2016 is slightly lower compared to €11.2 million seized in 2015 and about €14 million in 2014. If finally confiscated under a court decision, the amounts shift under the state ownership and a considerable part also goes to support and rehabilitate trafficking victims.

Authorities identified family members of politically exposed individuals, people with criminal records and young men in their twenties involved in money laundering schemes. In one case, authorities seized €1.87 million from a company involved in suspicious transfers to offshore tax havens.

As a rule, banks and other financial institutions have to report on transactions of more than 1 million lek (€7,000) while the Property Registration Office reports on contracts worth more than 6 million lek (€42,000).

Meanwhile, the Agency for the Administration of Seized and Confiscated Assets says another 2.13 billion lek (€15.6) million was seized in real estate assets whose origin is suspected of crime proceeds.

The agency's director Artur Kala says 54 bank accounts worth 1.1 billion lek (€8.1 mln) and 89 real estate assets worth 2.13 billion lek (€15.6) were seized in 2016.

Earlier this year, Albania strengthened its anti-mafia law on third party confiscation, extended confiscation and precautionary freezing of assets.

In its latest country report, the European Commission says only less than half of organized crime cases in Albania lead to confiscation of assets.

"Financial investigations are not systematically and effectively used to target criminal groups. Precautionary freezing of assets is rarely applied during the initial phase of an investigation. Proceeds of crime often disappear, resulting in a poor track record of confiscated assets at the time of the final conviction," says the report.

"Less than 50 percent of organized crime cases lead to confiscation of assets. Leaks to the press, violations of the secrecy of investigations and endangerment of the safety of police officers and prosecutors are still frequent," it adds.

Albania lost $1.2 billion in illicit financial flows from 2004 to 2013 at an average of $123 million annually during the decade which ranks the country 118th among 149 economies, according to a study published by Global Financial Integrity, a U.S.-based research and advocacy organization.

The study shows illicit financial flows, which involves illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another, dropped to $18 million in 2013, down from $36 million in 2012, $255 million in 2011 and a record high of $305 million in 2008.

The illegal capital outflows stem from tax evasion, crime, corruption, and other illicit activity.

Albania has been removed from the list of countries under continuous monitoring on money laundering and financing of terrorism, the Finance Ministry says citing a newly published report by Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) inter-governmental body.

In 2015 Albania was also removed from the watch list of Moneyval, the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a monitoring body of the Council of Europe.
                    [post_title] => €24 mln seized in suspected money laundering accounts, assets
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => e24-mln-seized-in-suspected-money-laundering-accounts-assets
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-11 15:00:54
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-11 13:00:54
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132358
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [8] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132341
                    [post_author] => 5
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-10 14:20:03
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-10 12:20:03
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 10 - Kastriot Myftaraj, a controversial author and conspiracy theorist, has spent the night under arrest after publishing an article in which he appeared to call for the assassination of the EU ambassador in Albania, Romana Vlahutin.

He was freed after prosecutors decided not to press charges, but not before his arrest sparked a national debate over media ethics and freedom of speech.

Using lurid language to insult Vlahutin and her career, Myftaraj ended the article first published on his Facebook page on May 7 by writing: "Every Albanian who loves his country can kill Romana, and this is going to be an anti-terrorist attack, not a terrorist one."

Police issued a statement saying Myftaraj's article made “open calls for violent acts against the constitutional order," which is a crime. If his case went to court, he would have faced three years in prison.

In his article, Myftaraj accuses the EU ambassador of working with Prime Minister Edi Rama against the interests of Albania toward the creation of a New Yugoslavia.

Many media outlets published the article titled “The weird adventures of a Croatian w***e” in full or in part following the arrest, leading to a debate over media ethics.

A journalists' union called on authorities not to prosecute Myftaraj, calling the arrest “extreme.” Admitting that the language used by the author was unethical, the Albanian Journalists Union noted that “arrests and imprisonments as a result of the exercise of free speech in Albania are a thing of the past that should not be repeated.”

The union also urged media editors to be more ethical in what they allow to be published.

Albania's most renowned writer, Ismail Kadare, wrote a letter to Vlahutin expressing his sadness for what she had to endure and his full support for her.

"This is not about clarifying what the insult of a non-normal person is and how little connection it has to do with an entire people and society. However, that insult was published by the press of my country and, in one way or another, it made us all responsible," Kadare wrote in the letter, translated into English and published on the EU Delegation's Facebook page. "Although a known writer, I will not take it upon myself to respond about what may happen in this country, for good or for bad. I only wanted to share with you the sorrow that can be felt by a person who, in the country where she comes to help overcome troubles, is faced with such ingratitude."

Kadare's letter, added, "Dear Romana Vlahutin, I would be willing to apologise to you on my knees to assure you that the gratitude for you is and will be intact."

Myftaraj is well known conspiracy theorist who writes provocative articles and books and is no stranger to law suits. He had earlier faced charges of promoting religious hatred for his prolific writings against practicing Muslims and calling for the ban of Islam in Albania.

 
                    [post_title] => Arrest of author who threatened EU ambassador sparks debate on media ethics
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => conspiracy-theorist-arrested-for-threatening-eu-ambassador
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-12 11:02:22
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-12 09:02:22
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132341
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [9] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 132303
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2017-05-05 11:21:45
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 09:21:45
                    [post_content] => Ilir Meta was elected as the country’s new president in a vote conducted without the opposition in the Albanian parliament. He received 87 votes out of the 89 present MPs who participated in the process having so the entire constitutional legitimacy as spelled out in the respective laws.

Most important than all else, Meta’s personal political profile contributes considerably to the fact that his legitimacy and representativeness will be wide, and certainly wider than his predecessor’s.

In the words of Edi Rama, the Albanian prime minister, "one could not have chosen a president more with the DP and yet outside of the DP, even if we looked inside the DP" might have been ironic but they did bear an important truth.

Meta’s maturity and compromise-seeking prioritizing in his role as speaker of the Parliament, his experience of having worked extensively with both sides as well as his determination to stand his grounds have all the potential to benefit the establishment of a calmer political situation in Albania. He showed this with his conduct before the approval of the justice reform, accepting nothing less than wide consensus for a key reform, he signaled it again with offering his ministerial mandates to the opposition for them to enter upcoming elections and he can show it again.

The election of the President seems to have opened a new chapter for the ongoing political crisis: Meta can serve at least partially as some sort of guarantee to the opposition for their cause of fair elections. He has also upheld their other causes such as decriminalization and fight against cannabis trade. Given the time limits in place, Meta will be the president that calls the formation of the new executive after the elections and swears in the new Prime Minister and his cabinet. In this role he has at least the symbolic power to serve as a guarantor of the democratic principles. Should the most negative scenario play out and the election be conducted without the opposition, pluralism will be weakened substantially if not disappear altogether. Then Meta will have to be a key asset in the effort to bring back pluralism in Albania.

On other matters of the role of the President, Meta will have limited legal powers in the judicial sector since the constitutional changes of the justice reform have taken away the significant role the President used to play for the judiciary. However having been invested and embedded in the process for all these years, he can oversee its implementation and effectiveness from a vantage point of knowledge and understanding.

Finally but equally important, another aspect of the presidency of course is the presence in Albania’s foreign policy. In this regard, Meta has considerable previous background as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister has demonstrated a constructive rhetoric for all issues, especially some hot potatoes for the country such as relations with Greece and Serbia. The realistic expectation is that he shall carry out his presidential duties with the due consideration for Albania’s traditional constructive foreign policy and provide the necessary counterbalance at times even to the executive which might be more prone to political maneuvering in this field.

Meta’s departure from his leadership position at the helm of the socialist Movement for Integration spells upcoming big questions for the fate of the party which he almost single handedly transformed against all odds into the third pole of Albanian political sphere. Whether this party shall continue to uphold this strength it is unclear. Many will say that Meta’s presidency might spell the end of the party. However one should not forget that the party has beaten all prediction before and has increased its electorate in all previous elections. They have a chance of succeeding though they will need to find a new leadership that is as skilful as the past one to make it.

Ilir Meta’s election as Albania’s new president came at a difficult time and was done without the participation and votes of the Albanian opposition. Despite this, his strong charismatic and mature profile, vast political experience and cool-headed but determined conduct have the potential to transform this development into a positive perspective for Albania in both its domestic and international affairs.

 
                    [post_title] => Albania’s new president: A window for solving the crisis and new opportunities for beyond
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => albanias-new-president-a-window-for-solving-the-crisis-and-new-opportunities-for-beyond
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2017-05-05 11:21:45
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-05 09:21:45
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132303
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

        )

    [post] => WP_Post Object
        (
            [ID] => 132522
            [post_author] => 5
            [post_date] => 2017-05-23 11:54:25
            [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-23 09:54:25
            [post_content] => TIRANA, May 22 - Albania’s parliament held an extraordinary session Monday afternoon to nearly unanimously approve the new government reshuffle based on a landmark deal signed between Prime Minister Edi Rama and leader of the opposition Lulzim Basha before the country’s parliamentary elections scheduled for June 25.

Following the deal, the parliament also approved the remaining laws and regulations for the vetting process of judges and prosecutors that are part of the justice reform. 

Several other parts of the Rama-Basha deal were also approved by the lawmakers, including handing the leadership of the Central Elections Commission to the opposition.

The session marked the return of the Democrats to assembly, three months after their anti-government protests that kicked off in February. 

The parliament was summoned following the decrees of President Bujar Nishani of the new deputy prime minister and six other ministers. 

The Democratic Party recommended Ledina Mandia as Albania’s new deputy prime minister. Mandja has held the post of State Advocate and advisor to President Nishani.  

The former commander of the Special Army Units, Dritan Demiraj, has been appointed interior minister while the director general of the Court of Audit, Helga Vukaj will be Albania’s new minister of finances, replacing Arben Ahmetaj.  

President-elect Ilir Meta voted against Ahmetaj’s replacement but in favor of the discharge of Petrit Vasili as Minister of Justice. Ahmetaj discharge received 107 votes in favor and 3 against whereas Vasili’s dismissal received 102 votes in favor. 

Gazmend Bardhi will be Minister of Justice, Mirela Karabino will be Minister of Education replacing Lindita NIkolla , Arben Beqiri will be minister of Health, while Xhulieta Kertusha will be the minister of Social Welfare, replacing Olta Xhacka. 

The Central Election Commission will be chaired by Klement Zguri while Erinda Ballanca will be the country’s new Ombudsman. 

Lawmakers also approved the establishment of the vetting commissions and legal amendments to electoral reform 

The government reshuffle was the result of an agreement signed by the country’s two key political leaders which saw the postponement of elections to June 25.  

Prime Minister Rama said that the new ministers will be “the custodians of Albania’s electoral ethics,” and will make sure that “the administration will not be misused during elections.” 

This is Albania’s third provisional government with representatives of both left and right wing parties.

Back in 1991, the country’s first caretaker government was headed by Vilson Ahmeti while the second was established in 1997, as Albania was engulfed by popular unrest as a result of electoral fraud and Ponzi schemes. 
            [post_title] => Parliament approves caretaker ministers, vetting process
            [post_excerpt] => 
            [post_status] => publish
            [comment_status] => closed
            [ping_status] => closed
            [post_password] => 
            [post_name] => parliament-approves-caretaker-ministers-vetting-process
            [to_ping] => 
            [pinged] => 
            [post_modified] => 2017-05-23 11:54:49
            [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-23 09:54:49
            [post_content_filtered] => 
            [post_parent] => 0
            [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=132522
            [menu_order] => 0
            [post_type] => post
            [post_mime_type] => 
            [comment_count] => 0
            [filter] => raw
        )

    [queried_object] => stdClass Object
        (
            [term_id] => 52
            [name] => Premium
            [slug] => premium
            [term_group] => 0
            [term_taxonomy_id] => 52
            [taxonomy] => category
            [description] => Please subscribe to have access to articles in our premium section.
            [parent] => 0
            [count] => 227
            [filter] => raw
            [cat_ID] => 52
            [category_count] => 227
            [category_description] => Please subscribe to have access to articles in our premium section.
            [cat_name] => Premium
            [category_nicename] => premium
            [category_parent] => 0
        )

    [queried_object_id] => 52
    [post__not_in] => Array
        (
        )

)