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No immediate solution to Albania's political crisis

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/05/2017 By LLAZAR SEMINI, Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania — Leaders of Albania's governing Socialist Party and the main opposition Democratic party on Wednesday failed to reach a compromise to resolve the political crisis that has seen the opposition boycotting parliament and next month's parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha met for three hours at the office of President Bujar Nishani, who had called on them to resolve the crisis.

Nishani issued a brief statement saying that both sides offered their viewpoints on the political crisis and ways of resolving it, adding his contact continues "to find a possible solution based on compromise."

Hours after the end of their meeting, reactions from both leaders showed no deal was reached.

Rama said the government had offered a "mechanism ... to monitor, like never before, state structures, police, regional education departments, prison departments that have been the problematic issues before," also adding a regulation on not using state assets in the electoral campaign.

The opposition has said that Rama's resignation would be the only way it would take part in the elections, something not accepted by the premier.

In a late-afternoon speech at the tent pitched in front of Rama's office since February, Basha repeated that a caretaker government remained the only way to end the crisis.

"A technical (caretaker) government with the mandate to get rid of the crime in politics, fight drugs and give electoral reform to Albanians, with electronic voting and counting — this is the honest way to bring Albania back to normalcy and democratic coexistence," he said.

The opposition has boycotted parliament since February, demanding Rama resign before the June 18 elections claiming that his Cabinet will manipulate the vote.

It has also threatened "civil disobedience," starting with a local election taking place Sunday in a western town.

Rama, on his side, has said no solution will be accepted without including the launch of judicial reform, considered as key to starting European Union membership negotiations.

Judicial reforms were unanimously approved last year but implementation has been hampered by the opposition boycott of parliament, which has to create the vetting bodies that will evaluate the backgrounds of around 800 judges and prosecutors.

European parliamentarians haven't been able to persuade the opposition to change its stance.

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