World News Review WNR 17-5-97a
*********************************************************** Albania: Press Deplores 'Putsch' of PD Electoral Law
Tirana Koha Jone in Albanian 14 May 97 p 3 Editorial: "The Opposition: 'We Are Not Entering the Elections, This Is a Putsch'"
The expected happened. Overnight, the Democratic Party [PD] and President Sali Berisha poured scorn on everything that has been achieved at gunpoint in the last three months, undermining the agreement among the parties, the coalition government, and together with these, the hopes of all Albanians for free elections in Albania. Yesterday's chronology was perhaps the least expected in the dramatic course of events in Albania. After a deceptive silence, the party of the Albanian president produced from its desk drawer a secretly compiled variant of the electoral law, which overturned the bill of the National Reconciliation Government, which had been drawn up by Albanian and foreign experts and representatives of 10 political parties. A hybrid draft signed by Pjeter Arbnori and Ali Spahia (who thereby secured their place in the history books), boobytrapped the climate of compromise among the political parties, and it is not certain whether this can be restored. At 1700 [1600 GMT] yesterday, eight political parties of the roundtable met urgently in the Palace of Congresses in order to take a stand on the situation. At the end of the meeting, the prevailing view was that the elections should be abandoned if the PD variant is passed. The Socialist Party, the Democratic Alliance, the Social Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the Human Rights Union said that they would automatically withdraw from the polls at the end of June if the parliament did not perform an about-turn. The opposition also issued an appeal to the Alba mission of multinational forces to expand its mission and its operations. As expected, if insanely, the parliament did not perform an about-turn. While the opposition parties decided to abandon the elections, the hands of the Democratic Party's puppets passed all the articles of the bill, and even had the presence of mind to approve a referendum on the form of the regime on the same day as the elections. This goes to prove what the president said at his news conference the day before, where he pledged "a resounding victory" in the elections. Berisha knew very well that this is what would happen, because it appears that he will be the only person to vote for on election day, and there will be no other candidate on the list. Yesterday's decision by the PD send the country back to where it was at the beginning of March. Worse, it casts to the winds all the efforts and hopes that had been cherished for a pact to be achieved at the last moment, as Albania slid into the abyss of civil war. Now none of us knows what the future will be.
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