According to official sources, the Socialists have chosen the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as their closest ally for the upcoming elections. The two parties are still negotiating the number of electoral zones to be offered to the LDP by their larger political partner.
The Socialist Party (SP) appears to have determined that affiliation with the LDP might help them win the necessary number of seats to dominate the new Parliament. SP sources have told reporters they are making considerable efforts to win in northern zones, which in the past have been Democratic Party (DP) strongholds. The SP must have concluded that the Liberal Democrats have the necessary intellectual reputation and influence to compete successfully in the north.
The small Liberal Democratic Party, which split off from the DP in 1994-1995, has recently faced an intense internal debate on whether it should ally itself with the SP or the DP. Press sources report that one of the senior LDP leaders, Gjergj Zefi, will run in the northern city of Shkodra, and LDP Executive Chairman Arben Imami and Policy Secretary Gramoz Pashko will run in Tirana. Nothing is known about the campaign plans of party President Neritan Ceka, who supported an alliance with the Democrats.
Relations in the past between the SP and LDP, both members of the ruling coalition "Alliance for the State," have been mostly chilly, a situation that was aggravated when the LDP considered withdrawing from the coalition. These relations led to the dismissal of a number of LDP ministers, and the only LDP minister in the current leftist government is Justice Minister Arben Imami.
Senior DP officials oppose independent candidates
The main Opposition parties and smaller parties in the left-wing coalition have opposed amendments to the Electoral Code regarding "independent candidates." According to these parties, the idea of "independent candidates" launched recently by the Socialists is an SP effort to win more seats in Parliament. Senior officials of the DP have confirmed that they will oppose this so-called SP trick.
Democrats maintain that they are in favor of a fair and honest electoral race, and a DP official characterized the proposal as a reflection of the SP's fear of dealing directly with the elections. The "trick" to be played by the Socialists would favor the larger parties by seeing that proportional votes would go to smaller parties. According to Tritan Shehu, a Reformist deputy and former chairman of the Democratic Party, the DP—despite being a smaller party—opposes the idea because they believe they lack as many secure electoral zones as the SP.
Democrats finally win decision
The DP last week hailed the High Court of Justice's ruling on their case against the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). Democrats had condemned the Court of Appeals for its earlier decision, saying they would mount an appeal. The case concerned the CEC's decision that the right-wing coalition should be regarded as a single entity to be represented by just one member in the local electoral commissions, instead of five members. The Court of Appeals had upheld the CEC's decision, but the High Court has ruled that it does not comply with the law.
CE praises Albania's condemnation of violence in Macedonia
In Strasbourg last week, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CE) praised the strong condemnation of violence made by the Albanian government and by Albanian political leaders in Macedonia and Kosovo. The assembly asked all Albanian leaders to exercise their influence to promote dialogue and peace in Macedonia.
In a resolution adopted last week, the CE Assembly also urged Macedonia to intensify its efforts in preventing violence, to comply with the State of Law and to continue the policy of resolving conflicts through political and diplomatic means. It required Macedonia to pursue cooperation with Albanian political parties and to implement internal reforms in the political, judicial and economic spheres in order to stabilize society and the multi-ethnic state.
The Assembly has urged the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to take all necessary steps to hinder any support coming from Kosovo for "extremist" activity on the Kosovo-Macedonia border. Namik Dokle, chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission of the Albanian Parliament in the CE Parliamentary Assembly, expressed his concerns for three areas related to developments in Macedonia: constitutional reform that would secure equality for all Macedonian citizens, the use of the Albanian language in university, parliament and civil society, and integration of Albanians into the mainstream social life of the country.
In the CE's resolution, Albania's government is praised for its position regarding recent developments in Macedonia. Stojan Andov, president of the Macedonian Parliament, said that the Albanian government has taken a satisfactory stance since the first days of the conflict in Macedonia, when it "urged isolation of extremists and condemned them." According to Andov, this shows that the Albanian government works not only for the stability of neighboring countries, but also for the stability of the region as a whole.
Democrats congratulate Đukanović for electoral victory
Albanian Democrats were quick to congratulate the winners in Montenegro's recent elections, saying that the coalition's victory there was a result of Đukanović's opposition to the failed policies of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević. The director of the DP's foreign affairs department, Besnik Mustafaj, congratulated the Montenegrin people for the peaceful electoral process and the president for his victory. Mustafaj added that the constructive spirit shown so far would help Montenegro integrate quickly into Europe.
Friendly football match
The Albanian national football team met Turkey's team last Wednesday in the stadium of the Turkish city of Gazi Antepi. The friendly match, eagerly anticipated by Albanian sports fans, ended with a 2-0 victory over Turkey. Despite several absences in the team's core lineup during its earlier matches against Germany and England, the Albanians, led by Medi Zhega, played well against the Turkish team, particularly in the game's second half.
Artur Nura, 27 April 2001
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