TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s political parties have reached a compromise on next month’s parliamentary election following intensive talks mediated by a senior U.S. official.
Following a three-hour meeting that ended at dawn Thursday, Prime Minister Edi Rama of the governing Socialist Party and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party told reporters they had reached a deal. Rama’s handshake with Basha sparked clapping from the latter’s supporters.
Many in Albanian politics think the move will likely result in the postponement of the June 18 parliamentary election.
Basha said the deal will be “detailed in the next 24 hours.”
Rama, Basha and their technical staffs were meeting later Thursday to draft the deal.
Previously efforts by European and U.S. officials had failed to convince the Democrats to change their position that they would not take part in the June 18 parliamentary election, fearing that Rama’s Cabinet would manipulate the vote.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee on Monday gave them a proposal from European lawmakers and another from Rama as a basis for negotiations. U.S. Ambassador to Tirana Donald Lu was seen Wednesday going from Basha to Rama.
In a post to the embassy’s Facebook page, Lu hailed the “Albanian people for their patience and their belief in the strength of Albania’s democracy,” also the two political leaders and the diplomats involved in the mediation.
“We eagerly look forward to an election with the participation of all of Albania’s political parties,” said Lu.
The European Union office in Tirana also tweeted “Congratulations on agreement for free and fair elections in best interest of all citizens of Albania.”
The opposition has boycotted parliament since February, blocking the launch of judicial reforms, and refused to register for the election.
The Electoral College decided to postpone to May 22 its verdict on a complaint from the People’s Alliance Party that the registration of candidates was overdue.
This story has been corrected to fix the length of time for drafting to 24 hours, not 234 hours