“Our visit has coincided with a turbulent period over a row involving the Central Electoral Commission and institutions we believe should be independent and has a central role in the management of the elections,” two members of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, said after a fact-finding mission to Tirana.
“We urge Albania’s political parties to resolve the current row, which is hampering the functioning of the CEC, urgently,” they added.
Since Albania joined the Council of Europe in 1995, its has not held an election that meets international standards.
The two PACE co-rapporteurs, Jonathan Evans and Grigore Petrenco, visited Tirana on the heels of a controversial vote in parliament on Monday, which sacked a member of the Central Electoral Commission, CEC, who had been proposed by the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI.
A former junior government partner, the LSI left the government two weeks ago to join the Socialist-led opposition ahead of the June 23 elections.
The opposition condemned the vote, arguing that there was no legal basis to dismiss the commissioner and that his sacking put the independence of the CEC at risk.
The CEC is a seven-member collegial body tasked with overseeing elections in Albania. Although its members are proposed by political parties under a formula that grants the ruling coalition the right to propose four of the seven members, the CEC is considered an independent institution.
Two other members of the CEC proposed by the opposition Socialists resigned in protest on Monday and Tuesday after parliament sacked their colleague, describing the move as unconstitutional.
A third member, from the Union for Human Rights, the Greek minority party, suspended work in protest on Thursday. Although now left with only four commissioners, the CEC met on Friday and continued its work.