In a move unprecedented in any country that claims to be a democracy, the Central Election Commission (KQZ) has canceled the special municipal elections in Kavaja after Prime Minister Edi Rama withdrew the candidacy of PS candidate Klodian Shehi at the last minute and “encouraged” independent candidate Astrit Haka to do the same. Prime Minister Rama cited vague concerns about “stability” as the reason to sabotage the elections.
According to a press statement of the KQZ, both Shehi and Haka presented themselves at the Local Election Administration Commission (KZAZ) no. 42 in Kavaja handing in notarized declarations of their withdrawal from the local elections in Kavaja. The KZAZ accepted their withdrawals, although it is unclear on which legal basis. The Electoral Code does not have any provisions with last-minute withdrawals of candidates.
Based on the decision of the KZAZ in Kavaja, the KQZ then decided to cancel the elections and inform President Bujar Nishani of its decision.
It is unclear when the elections in Kavaja will be held, but most probably after the parliamentary elections on June 18. Meanwhile, Kavaja will remain without mayor, after former mayor Elvis Rroshi was removed from his post in the context of the decriminalization law; he had lied about his criminal past on his self-declaration form.
Surprisingly, the US Embassy released a statement in which it claimed to support the cancellation of the elections in Kavaja. Apparently the announcement of an opposition protest and a supposed threat to national stability is enough to deprive Albanian citizens of their constitutional right to vote at the will of the Prime Minister.