Albania Opposition to Boycott Parliament Over 'Criminal' MPs

Samira Assma's picture

After throwing eggs at the Prime Minister, opposition MPs have threatened to boycott parliament in a row over politicians with criminal records.

Albania's parliament is again in deadlock over judicial reforms because of an angry dispute between the parties over ridding parliament of people with criminal records.

Opposition MPs tried to stop the parliamentary session on Thursday by throwing eggs towards Prime Minister and Socialist Party leader Edi Rama.

Protests started when Armando Prenga, a government MP, was returned to parliament despite his involvement in a brawl in September 2015 with a 66-year-old fisherman in which he used a handgun.

Prenga was later expelled from Rama's Socialist Party but voted in line with other Socialist MPs during a parliamentary commission on Tuesday after the Supreme Court released him on bail.

His return to parliament angered the centre-right opposition MPs who demanded the prompt amendment of a newly approved law that bans people with convictions from public office.

They want the law to demand "the immediate removal of every individual from politics who was involved in injuring or threatening of another individual".

The leader of the Democratic Party parliamentary group, Edi Paloka, on Thursday said his party would not attend parliament if the majority did not accept the amendment.

"Otherwise, this parlament is not going to function any longer. It will close right here, right now," Paloka said.

However, Taulant Balla, a Socialist MP and the vice-chair of the cross-party parliamentary commission on cleaning up political life, said the opposition request could not be met.

"We cannot amendment the law for a single person... We can work together only on issues that we have already agreed," he said.

Because of the dispute, the opposition is expected formalize its boycott, making it difficult for Albania to conclude EU-mandated judicial reforms and implement the law on cleaning up politics and ridding the administration of people with a criminal past.

Progress on the judicial reforms is essential if Albania wishes to open negotiations on joining the EU.

Consensus between the parties is also required for the establishment of the National Bureau of Investigation, an agency modelled on the FBI that aims to tackle corruption in high places.

Source: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/albania-parliament-troubles-over-criminal-allegations-02-25-2016