Albania: premier Berisha: referendum on immunity repeal

Government and opposition in heated debate

07 August, 12:36

(ANSAmed) - TIRANA, AUGUST 7 - Albania's centre-right Prime Minister Sali Berisha said Monday evening that he wanted Albanians to decide on the repeal of immunity for lawmakers, judges and directors of constitutional institutions in a referendum.

The statement came at the end of an eight-hour parliamentary session convened to vote on a constitutional amendment concerning immunity that had been agreed with the Socialist opposition led by Edi Rama under pressure from the European Union, which considers its repeal an "important step in the fight against corruption".

The Socialists opposed the vote on Monday evening, asking for it to be put off until September when parliament is to decide on other constitutional amendments presented by the opposition concerning the judicial system, and accused Berisha of "bringing justice to its knees".

However the Premier said their intention was to block Albania's status as a candidate for joining the EU. In October the EU Commission is due to give its opinion on the membership request presented by the country in 2009. "The debate with you ends here," Berisha told the Socialists in parliament. "Tomorrow the government will start the procedure for the referendum." However under current law Berisha needs the support of the opposition to call a referendum, which must first be approved by parliament. "OK to the referendum. May the people also vote on our proposals," replied Rama on Twitter.(ANSAmed).

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