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News 14 Nov 17

Albanian Ruling Party Urges Election Chief’s Dismissal

The Socialist Party claimed the head of the Central Election Commission broke the law for not holding a review to consider the possible sacking of a mayor who was convicted of theft in Italy. 

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
The chairman of the Albanian CEC, Klement Zguri. Photo: LSA/Malton Dibra

The ruling Socialist Party’s parliamentary group officially asked on Monday for the dismissal of Central Election Commission, CEC chairman Klement Zguri, accusing him of not looking into whether to dismissal a mayor who was prosecuted in Italy in a theft case.

The Socialists accuse Zguri of not holding a meeting to review files from the General Prosecutor’s office which say that the opposition mayor of Mallakastra, Agron Kapllanaj, was convicted of theft in Italy in 2004 and sentenced to two years in prison.

On Monday afternoon, the Socialist parliamentary group announced that it will launch procedures for the dismissal of Zguri, as he didn't review the case within a 10-day deadline, as the law requires.

"The chairman of the CEC, consciously or under the influence of representatives of the [opposition] Democratic Party, decided to hide and archive the General Prosecutor’s decision about the mayor of Mallakastra without reviewing it at the Commission," said the chairman of the Socialist group, Taulant Balla.

Zguri was elected as the chairman of CEC, after a long career as the member of the Commission as result of a political agreement made by Prime Minister Edi Rama and the head of the opposition, Lulzim Basha, in May this year, after the opposition asked for concessions in order for it to participate in June’s parliamentary elections.

Zguri was elected as a CEC member as a candidate from the opposition Democratic Party.

The ruling party sees the conviction of Kapllanaj in Italy as inconsistent with the law that excludes people with criminal convictions from holding public office.

At a CEC meeting on November 3, the majority of the Commission’s members were against the early termination of the mayor’s mandate, arguing that the law doesn't cover convictions of this nature from over a decade ago. 

The issue of Kapllanaj’s mandate is expected to end up in the Constitutional Court for further review.

But Zguri told media on Monday that he hasn’t broken any law and the Socialists’ statements were politically motivated.

"I don't take any notice of political statements. There are records, documents and decisions, and the commission is open to showing them," he said.

However, the Socialist parliamentary group is expected to take the issue of the CEC chairman’s dismissal to the legislature for discussion.

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