Historic Referendum Within Reach in Albania

Balkan Insight has learned that the Constitutional Court will give the green light to a historic request for a referendum on trash imports, the first such grassroots initiative in Albania.The request, spearheaded by a group of activists, environmentalists and intellectuals, has collected more than 64,000 signatures, and calls for the annulment of two articles of a law that allows waste imports into Albania.

The signatures, collected by the Alliance Against Waste Imports, AKIP, have already been certified by the Central Electoral Commission, which requires 50,000 signatures for a referendum. After the court publishes its ruling, President Bujar Nishani will be called to set a date for the vote.

However, because of the parliamentary elections in June, a vote is not expected at least until the end of the year. Albania’s electoral code spells out that a referendum can only be held three months after a new parliament convenes.

Albania currently allows the import of waste based on a so-called “green list” of 25 materials. However, activists worry that the country does not have the necessary administrative capabilities to stop the flow of hazardous waste.

The referendum will be the first in Albania’s history called by voters. The only two referenda held since the collapse of the regime of former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, in 1991, were on approving Albania’s constitution.

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