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The Brief: Albania PM defends decision to hold disputed elections

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The Brief: Albania PM defends decision to hold disputed elections
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Albania's prime minister Edi Rama has defended his decision to hold disputed elections in June.

Speaking exclusively to Euronews, he also slammed the opposition's decision to boycott the vote.

"In a democracy, when it comes to elections it's not the parties that can decide to hold or not hold elections, and let alone minority to prevent the majority to hold elections for whatever reason ... the major political parties decided, disgracefully, to boycott. It was a suicidal strategy for them, but harmful for the people and not good for the country," he said.

The June 30 vote was mired in controversy, with the president moving to postpone the vote over security concerns.

Opposition parties boycotted, citing alleged collusion between the government and organised crime networks in previous ballots.

The near absence of opposition led to a resounding victory for Rama's socialist party but international observers criticised the one-party elections.

It was a crucial democratic test for Albania, which is hoping to join the EU.

"It's not our role to say whether the vote on (June) 30 was legal or illegal, it's the Albanian system who need to do it ... It is clear that we have followed this vote very closely, and what concerned us, is that the Albanian electorate has been deprived of a significant alternative. And that is why electoral reform is more important than ever now," Luigi Soreca, the European Union Ambassador to Albania.

In the EU's progress report on Albania this May, the Commission said the "main opposition parties’ disengagement has negatively affected the efforts for electoral reform" and called for them to re-engage.

But the standoff continued this week, as opposition parties called for fresh elections on October 13.