OSCE: Albania Police Will Be Reliable and Neutral on 2019 Local Elections

The Albanian State Police launched a training for police officers on the upcoming June local elections. Head of State Police Ardi Veliu said that police officers are the main actors to assure the integrity of elections:

“Police are the main actor to [assure that people] exercise their right to vote. The police operate in accordance with the law. [Good] examples are the previous election processes where police have conducted their duty properly. The training begins today with the headquarters officers and will continue with all officers involved. “

OSCE Ambassador Bernd Borchardt, who was also present at this event, expressed his trust in the police professionalism and neutrality during elections:

“I am sure that the professionalism of public institutions, including the state police, will further increase the people’s assurances that their vote really matters and that the final results reflect the political will of the entire Albanian society. I am confident that state police will be neutral in this important process and will behave with professionalism and dignity.”

The 2017 general elections were marred by Prime Minister Edi Rama’s controversial and illegal call upon the State Police to gather votes for the Socialist Party:

“I call upon all the employees of the State Police, at the moment they take their uniform off, after work, to dedicate themselves to take as many votes as possible for the PS, so that we prevent the shadow of shame from returning on their uniform.”

Mr Rama’s call was a violation of the laws, which explicitly prohibits the police from taking part in any campaign activity, whether on or off duty. Later on, the prime minister expressed his regret for the statement while opposition’s LSI party filed a lawsuit against him.