Albania Opposition Ends Hunger Strike


Socialist Party leader Edi Rama and Prime Minister Sali Berisha are expected to travel to Strasbourg on Thursday, where they will hold talks with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele aimed at finding a compromise.

“On Thursday in Strasburg the highest representatives of the European left and right will host both parties in a roundtable to find a solution,” Rama told his supporters as he announced the end of the strike.

Rama, who is also Tirana’s mayor, and Berisha have been locked in a stalemate over the results of the June 28, 2009 parliamentary elections, which Berisha’s party narrowly won.

On May 1, two dozen Socialist MPs and 180 of their supporters went on hunger strike in a tent in front of the prime minister’s office, pushing for a recount of the parliamentary election ballots.

The Socialists have boycotted parliament since the new session began in September, claiming that the government’s alleged fraud was to blame for their electoral loss.

They have conditioned their full participation in parliament on a recount of the electoral ballots of the parliamentary poll.

Although declaring his openness to a parliamentary investigation of the election, Berisha has stubbornly rejected the possibility of a recount. He argues that the opposition has exhausted all legal options and that he cannot override the judicial process.

Despite mediation by Albanian President Bamir Topi and the Council of Europe, both sides remain firm in their position, while the stalemate is hindering the country’s progress toward European Union integration.

In a letter sent to both Rama and Berisha, leaked to local media on Wednesday, the EU parliament threatened to freeze Albania’s integration process if a solution to the crisis was not reached.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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