From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Albanians to Protest Today Demanding the Resignation of Prime Minister

Albanian Opposition parties have organised the 10th national protest, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The protest will take place at 8pm and will be the first since the controversial “elections” that took place on the 30 June. The local elections were scheduled to take place on this date but President Meta rescheduled them for 13 October, citing fears over civil unrest amongst others.

The ruling socialist party ignored his Presidential decree and held the “elections” regardless, winning in every municipality- most of which they were running uncontested in. If these results were considered to be legitimate, which the Socialist Party believes they are, this would put Albania under one-party rule, the first time since Communism.

The “elections” were full of inconsistencies including allegations of voter intimidation, family voting, and vote buying. Video footage also emerged of ballot box stuffing as well as ballot boxes being transported in private vehicles which is against the electoral code.

The most concerning of all irregularities however was the fact that as many as 12 municipalities reported a Socialist Party win by significantly more votes than the number of people that voted. Some municipalities reported excess voting numbers totalling thousands, suggesting that results were rigged or tampered with. In addition to this, there were reports of dead people casting votes as well as those who have emigrated and not returned.

The President and the Opposition maintain that the “elections” were not legitimate because only the President has the power to set the date, or cancel the date of an election. Such a decision can only be challenged in the constitutional court, which is defunct at the moment.

The ODHIR who observed the elections stated that the “elections” were held with “little regard for the interests of the electorate” and voters “did not have a meaningful choice between political options.” They also made reference to “credible allegations of citizens being pressured” and legal uncertainty” surrounding the matter.

Opposition parties and now increasingly, members of civil society have been protesting since February demanding the resignation of Rama, electoral reform, a transitional government and free and fair elections. Their demands come after a number of leaks of prosecution wiretaps that detail collusion between Socialist Party MPs and officials, the Prime Minister and criminals, police, and other individuals to buy votes during the 2016 local and 2017 general elections.