Albania Embassy protest poster which will be held in London, 1st October 2016, 3pm

Albania Embassy protest poster which will be held in London, 1st October 2016, 3pm

British Albanian environmentalists are mobilising to protest at the Albanian Embassy in London after Albanian parliament on Thursday passed a draft law that would re-start the controversial industry of importing and recycling waste.

The protest will be held on 1st October 2016, 3pm, at Albanian Embassy in London, 33 St George’s Dr, London SW1V 4DG.

Albanian environmentalists are threatening to call a referendum on a controversial draft law on waste imports that MPs adopted on Thursday. The draft now has to go to the President before passing into law.

It is not the first time that green activists in Albania have mustered supporters for a referendum on this hot issue.

From September 2011 until June 2013, after the former centre-right Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, adopted a similar law, activists gathered 64,000 signatures for a referendum that was finally scheduled for December 24, 2013

However, the new centre-left Prime Minister, Edi Rama, who took office in September 2013, promptly decided to ban waste imports, making a referendum unnecessary.

Some 63 of 98 MPs present in the chamber backed the draft on Thursday.

But if President Nishani does not sign the draft into law and returns it to parliament, at least 71 of the total of 140 votes in parliament will be needed for the draft to become law.

Three MPs from Rama’s ruling Socialist Party, Eduard Shalsi, Ervin Bushati and Bujar Derveni, drafted the law, which complains that the once lucrative recycling industry had suffered after waste imports were banned.

“The recycling industry is working at only 30 per cent of capacity, causing great economic hardship and job losses,” the draft reads.

Opposition MPs say if the law is passed, Albania is in danger of being turned into a big rubbish dump.

MPs within the ruling majority are also concerned. Three Socialist MPs voted against the draft and two others abstained during the vote while MPs from the junior ruling party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, did not all support the draft law, either.

The Party for Justice, Integration, and Unity, which is also part of the ruling coalition, did not participate in the vote.

Lavdosh Ferruni, a well-known activist who took part in 2011-2013 campaign against waste imports, told BIRN that they were calling on the President not to sign the draft into law.

“We are continuing our campaign against the current draft. We are ready to meet the President and ask him to not decree the law,” he said.

Ferruni added that if push came to shove, they would go ahead with a referendum. “We have people ready to sign again. We are more organized, bigger and firmer in our campaign to stop waste imports for happening. We are very confident this time,” he said.

Under the Albanian constitution, the collection of 50,000 signatures is needed in order for a referendum to be approved.

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