U.S. Ambassador urges party leaders to vet candidates

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 2, 2020 13:15

U.S. Ambassador urges party leaders to vet candidates

TIRANA, Sep. 2 - In a letter addressed to Albanian party leaders, US Ambassador Yuri Kim urged them to take measures so that their MP candidates are not subject to the decriminalization law.

Ambassador Kim stated that she encourages all political parties "to vet candidates and elect only those who are qualified and respect Albanian voters. While the individual is responsible to disclose their criminal history, party leaders should ensure the integrity and veracity of declarations of those seeking office under their banner."

The US ambassador recalled how some deputies or mayors have resigned or are under investigation due to the Law of Decriminalization. In last year's local elections, some of the Socialist party's elected officials turned out to have a criminal history.

"The United States is committed to fighting corruption and stands with anyone who seeks to stop corrupt officials from operating illegally and with impunity," she said, adding that the United States would continue to use their right to ban corrupt officials from entering US territory. So far, such a measure has been taken against MP Tom Doshi, former Chief Prosecutor Ariatik Llalla and former Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako, while over 170 other officials have been denied visas.

However, it is unprecedented for an Ambassador to make such a statement as regards the Decriminalization Law in Albania.

The Decriminalization Law was first passed by parliament in the previous legislature under pressure from international representatives and the opposition Democratic Party, after the Socialist-led coalition fielded a few MPs who were later proved to have had criminal convictions outside Albania. The Democrats accused the Socialists of relying on the criminal underworld and its representatives to win elections.

The law for Decriminalization allows the verification of data as many times as it's requested by 10 percent of MPs, and can be directed to other MPs or members of the Council of Ministers, including the prime minister.
"The Democratic Party is decisive in fighting crime and removing it from Parliament and all state institutions. The Democratic Party asks the Prosecutor's Office to act immediately and guarantee the implementation of the Decriminalization Law," noted a statement by the main opposition party at the time.

The law stipulates that if politicians are accused of serious crimes or if they lie in these questionnaires they must resign. Mayor of Kavaja Elvis Rroshi was the first official to resign and arrested after failing to reveal his alleged criminal past in the questionnaires delivered in the framework of the decriminalization bill.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 2, 2020 13:15