Rival Assemblies Widen Rift in Albania’s Main Opposition Party

The civil war within Albania's main opposition Democratic Party worsened over the weekend after an assembly on Saturday summoned by former DP leader Sali Berisha voted to change the party's statute, and dismiss the current leader, Lulzim Basha - who has, in turn, dismissed some party members that participated in the assembly.

The projected dismissal of Basha is due to be voted on December 18 in a party referendum, the same day when Basha has called another assembly of party members from all over the country.

Basha's own assembly was annulled in the statutory changes made by Berisha's supporters on Saturday. The new party statue would be registered in court, it was said.

One day after the Berisha assembly, on Sunday, Basha gathered the National Council of the party and voted to dismiss some members of the party with high positions that had participated in Berisha's assembly.

A resolution approved by the National Council deemed the assembly "null" along with all decisions taken by it.

The party also announced on Monday that the DP has filed a lawsuit against the group of party officials who organised Saturday's assembly. MPs Belind Kelliqi, Edmond Spaho and Albana Vokshi as well as party officials Ivi Kaso and Ervin Minarolli, are on the list of suspects, who have allegedly falsified stamps and party symbols during the event.

Meanwhile, during his speech on Saturday, referencing his being blacklisted by the US, Berisha invited "US State Department officials to reconsider their decision because arrogance and error are not the virtues of free people".

Berisha was dismissed from the party's parliamentary group by Basha in September, after being declared "persona non-grata" by the US State Department, citing alleged...

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