Albanian Opposition Faces Obstacle to Entering Local Election Race

The temporary resignation of the former leader of the opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha in March last year has prevented the party from registering for the May local elections.

This is because some key documents submitted to the Central Elections Commission, CEC, should have had his signature.

One is the "Solemn Declaration" - a document that contains a commitment to refuse to participate in vote-buying, receiving illegal funds, especially those resulting from criminal activities, as well as a commitment to compete in elections honestly and with integrity.

Basha delegated his party responsibilities to Enkelejd Alibeaj, but this procedure did not go to the courts to be legalized. Therefore, the CEC has deemed the documentation incomplete. It asked the party to fix the documentation with a deadline in 48 hours last Friday.

Alibeaj, who is temporarily leading the party, on Tuesday claimed the CEC decision was "politically influenced". The party has filed a complaint against the decision at the Commission of Complaints at Complaints and Sanctions Commission at the CEC. A decision will be given on Thursday.

The dispute has strengthened the hand of Alibeaj's rival, Sali Berisha. The party is divided into two factions, one led by former leader Berisha - who also asked to be registered by the CEC to represent the DP in the local elections - a request that was denied - and the other group led by Alibeaj.

Berisha has not made his plans public for the local elections, but his candidates will likely run in a coalition with Ilir Meta's Freedom Party.

A court ruling on March 6 failed to resolve who leads the biggest opposition party, and the case was sent for re-trial. Until a definite court ruling, the party will be lead...

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