Albanian President Decrees Controversial Nomination for Interior Minister Despite Reservations

President of Albania, Bujar Nishani
President of Albania, Bujar Nishani

Tirana, Albania | Tirana Echo – Albania’s President Bujar Nishani said last night he would decree controversial nomination Fatmir Xhafaj as Minister of Interior , although he considers him to be unfit for duty, throwing the ball to the Parliament’s court for assessing the controversial nomination.

In an unusual press conference held on Sunday, President of Albania Bujar Nishani said he would “decree Fatmir Xhafaj as Minister of Interior together with the rest of new Ministers, as the constitution does not give the President competencies to refuse ministerial appointments, although I do not consider Xhafaj acceptable for this office,” due to his questionable past as former investigator during Albania’s communist regime.

Nishani added that should the Albanian Constitution recognize the President’s right to refuse a Prime Minister’s appointee for ministerial office he would have done so in Xhafaj’s case. Since he is not entitled to this prerogative, Nishani said he expects the Parliament to do so and to send this appointee back to the Prime Minister.

If the Constitution would recognize the right of the President of the Republic to refuse the Prime Minister’s proposals, based on arguments, I would refuse the nomination of the Minister of Interior, but under the conditions where the Constitution does not give the President such rights, I believe and hope that the institution which the Constitution recognizes as the rightful body to assess nominations for minister, which is the Parliament of Albania, will judge and assess all the circumstances, the political situation and the specific needs of the social, public and political life of the country, which are the upcoming elections,” – said President Nishani in his live press conference.

He called on the parliament to press on the Ministry of Interior for the depoliticization of the State Police ahead of the 18 June elections, and also for tangible results in the fight against cannabis cultivation and trafficking.

In response to the President’s press conference, Democratic Party (DP) Chair Lulzim Basha said that through a patriotic and constitutional act, the President had warned all the relevant stakeholders and the Albanian people to withdraw the appointment of Fatmir Xhafaj, whom he described as a torturer of the communist dictatorship.

Basha also welcomed the President’s offer for facilitating the ruling majority-opposition dialogue on the next parliamentary elections, dialogue that in his view should have a single topic: establishing technical government for free and fair elections.

Basha told the former politically persecuted people and DP militants present at the protest tent on Friday, that Xhafaj’s decreeing as Interior Minister should be prevented at all costs, as he had been in the past a notorious investigator and zealous servant of the communist dictatorship.

Xhafaj, a former political youth secretary in Enver Hoxha’s communist party, has been under accusation by the democrats as a ruthless investigator of the former communist regime and has also been accused of  his brother’s links to organized crime in Italy.

The nomination of Xhafaj and the other 3 ministerial appointments is up for a vote in Parliament as all eyes are on the junior coalition partner LSI, whose votes are crucial for the appointments.

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