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Albanian ‘Conservative’ Party Won’t Allow Elections After Soros-Backed Leader Resigns, As Party Fear Of Populist Leader Berisha Rises

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The formal Democratic Party will not elect a new leader before local elections in the summer of 2023, according to a statement backed by an undisclosed number of PD members of parliament.

On Monday, the leader of the formal PD, Lulzim Basha resigned after blaming former PD leader Sali Berisha and Prime Minister Edi Rama for his party defeats. Basha reiterated during his resignation speech that he would work hard to bring Democrats together, and that the party leadership should convince members of the need for unity before new leadership elections take place. 

His duties were immediately transferred to deputy chairman Enkelejd Alibeaj by the formal PD General Secretary Gazmend Bardhi, who announced he had taken the decision in compliance with party statutes.

“The General Secretary convenes the National Council, which appoints the Deputy Chairman who will lead the Party until the return to duty of the Chairman or the election of a new Chairman,” their statutes stipulates.

Two of the four PD deputy chairman – Agron Gjekmarkaj and Grida Duma – resigned after the crushing defeat in the March 6 byelections, and called on Basha to resign.

Bardhi said he called the remaining two deputies in his office after Basha’s resignation, where Jorida Tabaku had stated she would not run for chairwoman. Therefore, Bardhi suggested, Enkelejd Alibeaj being the only remaining deputy chairman, becomes the party chairman without the need for a convention of the highest party body – the National Assembly.

In a separate media statement, Alibeaj read a resolution backed by an undisclosed number of PD MPs that lauded Basha’s decision to resign, and supported his suggestions in the resignation speech.

It called on Sali Berisha to not run for PD chairman, and on PD parliamentary group members who were suspended by the formal PD leadership for supporting him, to withdraw support for Berisha and for the party statutes approved in December by the PD National Assembly he convened. Instead, Alibeaj read, the resolution called on them to comply with the formal PD statutes, in order to avoid consequences the United States has warned of.

Alibeaj also announced that their group will ask the European People’s Party to mediate a solution to the PD crisis.

Finally, it called on Berisha supporters to join the formal PD leadership in a national tour that would explain to party members the need for unifications, prepare the party for the next local election [in summer 2023], and prepare elections of PD leadership after local elections.

This means that, in case the formal PD loses local elections in 2023 no one will need to resign, and Basha can run again for party chairman.

Sali Berisha reiterated that party leadership can only be ascertained through inclusive and free elections. He has stated earlier that he plans to run for party chairman. 

His possible return to head the PD is not welcomed by Basha supporters, a number of PD MPs, as well as by some party members and voters. However, the majority of PD MPs and party members seem to support Berisha’s leadership, if one considers the support for the movement he led to oust Basha, as well as the March 6 byelection results.

One of the decisions of the PD National Assembly in December after dismissing Bashaand the PD steering committee, was to establish a Refoundation Committee that would lead the party until its next convention on March 22, 2022, to elect the new leadership. The committee postponed the convention to April 30 due to March 6 byelections.

The formal PD leadership does not recognize the decisions of the National Assembly called by Berisha’s movement in December, and they have ousted the former leader and some of his supporters from the party. Berisha’s group argues that the current PD leadership is illegitimate after it was dismissed by the National Assembly and the following vote by party members. 

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