The Senior US State Department Official, Jonathan Moore said yesterday during a meeting in Washington, focused on the elections in Albania that, “these elections have a special importance for Albania and that both parties are responsible for the elections. This is a good opportunity for both parties, the governing party and the opposition party to show their commitment in holding free and honest elections”, declared Moore, who a few days ago held an official visit to Tirana.
Moore also said that it’s utterly important to fill the vacant places in the Central Election Commission, as this would jeopardize the date of the elections, June 23, reports Voice of America.
The concern about the CEC and the need to fill the vacant places was also raised by the representative of the civil society in Albania, Dritan Taulla, who is at the same time a representative of the Coalition of Domestic Observers. Taulli also talked about several problems with the voters’ lists.
Robert Benjamin, regional director for Central and Eastern Europe in the National Institute for Democracy, said that the polls show a lack of the faith that people have on the elections, on the electoral process and on the political class in Albania. Benjamin said that although the electorate in Albania is highly politicized, this doesn’t deprive them of their legitimate right for free and honest elections. According to him, political parties have a responsibility toward the people and the country to defend the integrity of the elections in order for them not to be manipulated.
Last month, the National Democratic Institute made an assessment of the pre electoral situation in Albania, by offering several instructions based on national issues. “A conclusion was reached according to which, Albania has seen a considerable improvement in the pre electoral process and in the legal framework. Political parties reached agreements for the improvement of several legal deficiencies. Therefore, it is possible to have free elections in Albania if parties do not intervene in the process, but leave everything to take place according to the law and secondly, if the process is entirely transparent for domestic and foreign observers”, said Robert Benjamin.
The former US ambassador in Tirana, John Withers expressed his concern about the possibility that the result of the elections can be manipulated, but Mr. Moore, of the US Department of State didn’t share this opinion. “I apologize for having to beg to differ with the people about their comments on the risk of the electoral fraud. Both Rama and Meta, who have formed a left winged coalition, have expressed their absolute conviction that they will win the elections. Therefore, I don’t understand how they can be manipulated… Both parties say that they want the elections to be held in time. If their point of view changes, then so does ours”, said Moore.
Some of the participants were concerned about the fact that political parties treat the CEC as a political body, at a time when it’s only an administrative institution. They said that both sides have been involved in a damaging political game and that a question mark lies behind the dismissal of the member of the CEC by parliament. But, on the other hand, the decision of the opposition to boycott the CEC was also considered damaging for the electoral process.
The participants in the conference agreed upon the fact that elections in Albania need a third key player, besides the majority and opposition, and that is civil society. /ibna/