Albanian president sets June 18 for parliamentary election

Albania's president has set June 18 as the parliamentary election date, paving the way for what Albania hopes is the European Union's approval for the launch of the membership negotiations.

President Bujar Nishani on Monday issued a decree on electing 140 lawmakers for a four-year mandate. The winning majority creates the new Cabinet.

Tirana is expecting Europe's Council to agree on a date to launch talks. That may be delayed, however, since the center-right opposition Democratic Party's request to suspend a law on vetting judges and prosecutors has temporarily blocked the launch of justice system reforms. Brussels has demanded the reforms to ensure the judiciary's independence from politics and to root out bribery.

Elections in post-communist Albania have never been described by the international community as fully free or fair.