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Albania’s parliament approves controversial deal with Italy

Albania’s parliament on Thursday approved a deal under which the country will hold thousands of migrants rescued by Italy in international waters while their asylum claims are processed.

The parliament, dominated by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s left-wing Socialist Party, voted 77 to zero in favour of approving the deal, with no abstentions, while conservative opposition lawmakers tried to disrupt the vote with whistles. The president will also issue an executive order that will be the final step toward approval.

Conservative lawmakers have repeatedly disrupted the vote since October by opposing the socialist government.

Under the five-year agreement, Albania will hold up to 3,000 migrants at a time in two processing centres while their asylum claims are processed, for about a month.

Italy’s lower chamber of parliament approved the deal in January, followed by the Senate earlier this month.

The agreement, signed in November by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is part of Meloni’s efforts to share the burden of dealing with migration with other European countries. It was endorsed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen but has been widely criticised by human rights groups.

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