Albania Greens Brace For New Showdown Over Waste

Albanian environmentalists are threatening to call a referendum on a controversial draft law on waste imports that MPs adopted on Thursday. The draft now has to go to the President before passing into law.

It is not the first time that green activists in Albania have mustered supporters for a referendum on this hot issue. 

From September 2011 until June 2013, after the former centre-right Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, adopted a similar law, activists gathered 64,000 signatures for a referendum that was finally scheduled for December 24, 2013

However, the new centre-left Prime Minister, Edi Rama, who took office in September 2013, promptly decided to ban waste imports, making a referendum unnecessary.

Some 63 of 98 MPs present in the chamber backed the draft on Thursday.

But if President Nishani does not sign the draft into law and returns it to parliament, at least 71 of the total of 140 votes in parliament will be needed for the draft to become law.

Three MPs from Rama's ruling Socialist Party, Eduard Shalsi, Ervin Bushati and Bujar Derveni, drafted the law, which complains that the once lucrative recycling industry had suffered after waste imports were banned.

"The recycling industry is working at only 30 per cent of capacity, causing great economic hardship and job losses," the draft reads.

Opposition MPs say if the law is passed, Albania is in danger of being turned into a big rubbish dump.

MPs within the ruling majority are also concerned. Three Socialist MPs voted against the draft and two others abstained during the vote while MPs from the junior ruling party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, did not all support the draft law, either.

The Party for Justice, Integration, and Unity, which...

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