A decision from the Tirana Court accepted the changes made by an Assembly held by former Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha last December. Enkelejd Alibeaj, who is temporarily leading the party, said the decision will be appealed.

Court Ruling Strengthens Berisha’s Grip on Albania’s Democratic Party

The Democratic Party (DP) Assembly called by former leader Sali Berisha was held at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana. Photo: BIRN

Former Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha has scored a legal victory in his battle to regain control of the party after the Tirana Court accepted as lawful the changes he made to the party at an assembly he summoned last December.

As Tirana Court is a court of first instance, the verdict is subject to appeal.

The December 8 assembly, held at Tirana’s Air Albania Stadium, dismissed the then leader Lulzim Basha, who has since stepped down, and adopted a new statute.

A new body called the Re-Founding Commission, with 29 members, was created, which would lead the party until it chose a new leader. Another assembly is due to be held on April 30.

Basha resigned as party leader on March 21, after the DP was trounced in by-elections on March 6, the latest in a series of defeats for the centre-right opposition party.

The party is temporarily being led by Enkelejd Alibeaj, who called the Tirana Court ruling “scandalous” and said “the judge has declared his recognitions, his bias, in this ruling.”

According to Alibeaj, a few days after Berisha’s assembly the Democratic Party had appealed for the legal registration of a rival assembly, called by Basha.

By contrast, Edi Paloka, from the Re-Founding Commission, praised the ruling. “Finally justice was done,” he said

Conflict between Basha and Berisha erupted last September when Basha expelled Berisha from the party’s parliamentary group, after the US declared him “persona non-grata” for alleged involvement in “significant corruption”, “misappropriation of public funds” and interference in “public processes”.

Berisha then held several town hall meetings, attacking Basha’s leadership. In December, he held the large-scale assembly at the Air Albania Stadium, where the new party statute was adopted.

In the by-elections earlier this month, Berisha’s “Freedom House” coalition did significantly better than the official party.

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s governing Socialists won five of the contested races, but the sixth, the important northern city of Shkodra, was won by Berisha’s candidate, Bardh Spahiu.

The defeat was humiliating, as it was the first time in 30 years of political pluralism that the Democrats had come third in an election in the city.



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