The United States has brought its influence to bear in Albania to try to end a stalemate over reconstituting the country’s electoral commission to assure free and fair voting in June. Albania, a member of NATO, has yet to hold an election deemed free and fair by international monitors in more than two decades since its transition to democracy from the Stalinist rule of late dictator Enver Hoxha. Albania’s government and opposition announced election coalitions to meet a Wednesday deadline, but said nothing about the dysfunctional Central Election Commission, prompting Washington to vent its displeasure publicly.
“In order to have a good election, you need a functioning CEC, not a CEC based on a charade. It needs to be the result of political consensus, an agreement,” U.S. Ambassador Alexander Arvizu told reporters in the town of Korce on Wednesday.
With three opposition-nominated members having quit the CEC to protest at the sacking of a fellow commissioner, the four remaining state-appointed members cannot validate the polls.
Polarization between the two mainstream political parties, concerns about lapses in Albanian democracy and the slow pace of reform have stalled the country’s quest to join the EU. Albania remains prone to violence and instability.
Both the United States and EU had strongly advised the Tirana government against firing a CEC commissioner named by a coalition partner who later defected to the opposition.