TIRANA, ALBANIA —
Albania's political leaders on Thursday failed for the second time to reach a compromise as the opposition has boycotted the parliament and the June 18 parliamentary election.
Following intensive meetings with Western diplomats, Prime Minister Edi Rama, leader of the Socialist Party, and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party met again Thursday night.
Rama said the government offered direct monitoring of the voting with a task force of opposition representatives accompanied by monitors from the European Union, the United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"That's our position. There is not much time left," said Rama after the meeting. "We do not have another offer."
Basha turned down the offer, accusing Rama and his Cabinet of direct links to crime and drug trafficking and using that money to buy ballots.
The opposition has boycotted parliament since February, demanding that Rama resign before the June 18 election out of fear that his Cabinet will manipulate the vote.
Rama said he offered Basha a task force for the vote headed by a vice prime minister, with deputy ministers and vice directors at the education, justice and interior ministries, the police and the prison department "fully entitled to check the behavior of state structures."
The opposition, which has maintained a tent in front of Rama's office since February, has also threatened "civil disobedience," starting with a local election Sunday in a western town.
"Our battle is for free and fair elections, for a citizens' ballot," said Basha.
Parliament dissolved Thursday as required by the constitution ahead of a general election.