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News 07 Dec 17

Albania's Parties Feud Over New Chief Prosecutor

As the Albanian General Prosecutor's five-year term ends, the ruling and opposition parties are still haggling over the appointent of a temporary replacement.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
The General Prosecutor, Adriatik Llalla. Photo LSA/Malton Dibra

The five-year mandate of the General Prosecutor in Albania is ending without any agreement on a successor, which is expected to add to the existing tensions between ruling and opposition parties.

Adriatik Llalla assumed his five-year post on December 7, 2012 after serving as head of the High Inspectorate for the Declaration and Audit of Assets.

Normally, his replacement would have been agreed without much lost time. Now, however, the gap is occurring while Albania is still midway in a radical judicial reform process, which foresees the formation of new bodies and new ways of electing heads of the judicial system.

Under the new legislation adopted by parliament, the new General Prosecutor will have a seven-year term and will be appointed by the High Prosecutorial Council.

As this new body is not yet formed, the law foresees his immediate replacement with a provisional figure named by parliament.

Prime Minister Edi Rama took to social networks on Wednesday to urge the opposition to agree on a new temporary General Prosecutor, saying it would send a positive image about Albania as it awaits the opening of accession talks with the EU in the first half of 2018.

"We are on the verge of a meeting with history ... we have to choose whether we are going to let this chance go, or work together to gain the challenge of opening [membership] talks," Rama wrote.

Parliament's law committee on Thursday meanwhile began the procedure of electing a new Prosecutor.

But the main opposition Democratic Party said the procedure went against the constitution and the law.

It insists that, from a legal point of view, a new provisional General Prosecutor cannot be elected for the moment.

"Until the High Prosecutorial Council is created, it will not be possible to ... proceed with the election of a new General Prosecutor, even a temporary one," it said, accusing Rama's ruling Socialists of wanting to capture the Prosecution as an institution.

Albania's powerful American ally does not agree, however.

The US embassy reacted immediately to the opposition press release, reminding parliament of a paper issued by experts from OPDAT and EURALIUS, which said the prosecutor's place should be filled by a temporary one, if need be.

"The constitution and the prosecutorial law are clear. The US embassy endorses the OPDAT and EURALIUS legal opinion provided to parliament. We call on parliament to respect the law," it reads. [OPDAT is the US Office for Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training.]

Albania's prosecution has been in the spotlight in the recent months as the Prosecution Office for Serious Crimes seeks the arrest of former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri over his alleged involvement in drug trafficking.

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