President Ready to Change Local Elections Date Scheduled for October

President Meta stated he is ready to engage in dialogue with Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha to negotiate the date of local elections scheduled for 13 October.

Yesterday Rama declared that the 30 June elections were legitimate and that he refused to acknowledge Meta’s Presidential Decree which cancelled those elections and then rescheduled them for October. The PM added that the Socialist Party has had a good start to the local governance process despite two Mayors not having their mandates recognized by the courts.

The Socialist Party ran uncontested in the elections held in violation of presidential decree, and won in all 61 municipalities across Albania. The government and Central Election Commission claim that 23 percent of the population voted, while the opposition claims the vote was manipulated and only around 15% of the eligible voters participated.

The elections have been described as “highly irregular” by the ODHIR and irregularities included illegal participation of “opposition” parties, more votes being counted than voters that voted, ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and harassment, and allegations of vote buying.

Despite this, Rama stated that they won the elections of 30 June through the rule of law and that for him, 13 October is the same as 12 October or any other day. He also claimed that they had their “biggest win” on 30 June despite poor turnouts.

Meta said he is open to suggestions for changing the date of the elections he scheduled, adding that for him it’s important to held pluralist, free and fair elections before 17-18 October, which is when the EU Council will decide on opening or not accession negotiations with Albania.

He observed that if he, Rama, the government and Lulzim Basha, the leader of the opposition did not find a solution for the current crisis, they would “fail in the fall exam”– referring to the impending EU decision.

Meta said he looks forward to meeting Rama and Basha to “provide a responsible solution for this crisis which could otherwise continue to deepen.”

The president concluded by emphasizing that “no legal and constitutional elections” took place on June 30.