New parliamentary groups founded
According to parliamentary rules, 18 January 2001 was the deadline for creating new parliamentary groups in the current legislature. Accordingly, a group of deputies representing the Reform Group of the Democratic Party (DP) and other small political parties initiated negotiations to create a new joint Parliamentary Group.
The core of this group consists of the DP deputies Genc Pollo, Ferdinand Xhaferri, Tritan Shehu, Leonard Demi, Ylli Vejsiu and Leonard Noka; the United Right deputies Fatbardh Hushi and Nexhat Kalaj; Republican deputy Sabri Godo; Christian-Democrat Zef Bushati; and Royalist deputy Guri Durollari. The group is expected to become larger than the current DP parliamentary group, with the addition of other independent deputies who had expressed an interest in joining.
The formation of the new coalition represents a virtual political revolution within Parliament, and its initiators had said that it would be welcomed by a number of right-wing deputies as a constructive Opposition that might have the ability to claim power.
Eventually, the DP Reformist deputies could create only this new parliamentary group with six members as the finale of their "Movement for Reform" initiative, which sprang up as a reaction to the policies of DP leader Sali Berisha. Leonard Noka, the new group's leader, and Reformist deputy Genc Pollo stated that this political initiative would soon be followed by another, which observers expect will be related to their efforts to re-establish the Democratic Party through an Emergency Congress.
Finally, Sabri Godo, the Republican deputy, left the DP reformist initiative and created a new parliamentary group. Amidst the recent confusion, deputies Sabri Godo, Nexhat Kalaj, Fatbardh Hushi, Guri Durollari and Zef Bushati announced the creation of a new parliamentary coalition called the Center Right.
DP leaders comment on new coalition
DP Parliamentary Group leader Jemin Gjana told reporters that the creation of the new parliamentary group made up of former DP deputies would not detract from the party's political struggle in Parliament. Gjana said that the new group would contribute nothing of value to this Parliament in the six months left before the elections.
The DP's Secretary for Public Relations Pjeter Arbnori said that the recent political shift was in full compliance with the law and the right of any deputy to form new alliances. Arbnori ruled out chances of any fruitful collaboration with the new group, however, and added that they could not be said to be co-operating with the ruling Majority.
Efforts continue to resolve CEC crisis
The Albanian media have reported that a secret meeting was held in Socialist Party (SP) headquarters between SP leader Fatos Nano and Fotaq Nano, the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC). According to these sources, the two men explored ways to reach an understanding that would resolve the current crisis.
The SP leader reiterated his demand for CEC resignations in response to criticism not only from the Opposition, but also from international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The CEC chairman, however, seems to have upheld his decision not to give in to the demands of the dissenting political parties.
On the same day, the Parliamentary Commission of Legal Affairs summoned the CEC Chairman to report on preparations for the June 2001 elections, but the session was rescheduled for another day.
In the meantime, the Parliamentary majority debated the issue of new electoral divisions. Majority Leader Arben Malaj announced that preparations for the draft law should be completed by 5 February, which is also the deadline for reviewing the remarks concerning amendments to the legal framework of the electoral process and the electoral code. Malaj said that the Commission of Legal Affairs will be studying the political parties' comments on the new electoral divisions until 19 February, when the draft law will again be presented to Parliament.
Sokol Hazizi, Secretary of the Parliamentary Commission of Legal Affairs, has launched a proposal inviting the right- and the left-wing parties to reach a compromise concerning the CEC crisis. Hazizi, a Socialist Party deputy, says he is confident that an agreement could be forged within the existing framework for the establishment of the electoral infrastructure. Hazizi expressed optimism that a rational consensus concerning the matter might be reached, but at the same time warned that "The CEC members should be aware of the consequences of a lack of trust in them."
CEC Chairman Fotaq Nano gave an interview concerning his meeting with Fatos Nano and the Parliamentary Commission hearing, in which he reported on preparations for the June elections. The Chairman reiterated his determination not to resign and suggested that the political parties should reach a consensus concerning the matter.
SP deny rumored Nano-Koštunica meeting
Emin Barci, Socialist Party (SP) spokesman, has denied media speculations that SP leader Fatos Nano met Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica during his recent visit to Athens. In a press conference, Barci said that as SP leader, Nano makes it a rule to make public any activity that might impact developments in Albania, strengthen peace and security in the region and further regional integration. Barci explained that Nano was actually on a visit to Turkey.
Various Albanian newspapers reported that Nano had met with President Koštunica in Athens, based on a news item from the German radio program Deutsche Welle, which quoted the Yugoslav news agency Beta. In response to inquiries, Beta told the Albanian News Agency ATA that they had simply stated that the Yugoslav president had stayed in the same hotel and on the same floor as the Albanian Socialist Party leader.
Artur Nura, 19 January 2001
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