Albanian PM announces major cabinet reshuffle, including changes at foreign affairs, finance, agriculture, health and education

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 4, 2023 23:11

Albanian PM announces major cabinet reshuffle, including changes at foreign affairs, finance, agriculture, health and education

Story Highlights

  • Ministers of foreign affairs, agriculture and education have been removed from government, as several others re-positioned. 

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TIRANA, Sept. 4, 2023 - In a significant reshuffle of his government, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced Friday several changes to his cabinet, including the departures of the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, health, agriculture and education.

The latest government reshuffle marks one of the most significant changes made during Rama's tenure at a time when the government has been hit by a series of investigations on corruption and other wrongdoings.

The most notable change is the departure of Minister of Foreign Affairs Olta Xhaçka, who had been at the helm of Albanian diplomacy since the 2021 elections. She is set to be replaced by Igli Hasani, the former ambassador of Albania to the OSCE in Vienna who has also held a key post at that international organization as an Albanian representative. 

Xhaçka's departure comes amid mounting controversy as she faces the Constitutional Court over her mandate as a member of parliament. The opposition has alleged a conflict of interest due to her husband receiving the status of a strategic investor for a tourist complex project on Albania's southern coast.

Additional changes in the cabinet include the appointment of Ervin Mete, the current director of the Financial Supervision Authority and former Deputy Minister of Finance (2013-2017), as the new Minister of Finance, replacing Delina Ibrahimaj. 

Ibrahimaj will remain in the government cabinet but will now serve as the state minister for entrepreneurship, taking over from Edona Bilali.

Minister of Education Evis Kushi is also leaving the government, with Ogerta Manastirliu, the current health minister, set to take over the role. Albana Koçiu, currently the director of the Department of Public Administration, has been proposed as the new health minister.

In a return to the government, former Minister of Finance Anila Denaj will replace Frida Krifca as the minister of agriculture.

The Ministry of Agriculture had recently come under scrutiny when the European Commission temporarily halted reimbursements to the Albanian government for agricultural projects within the IPARD II Program due to allegations of corruption during the program’s implementation.

Prime Minister Rama also announced the merger of the functions of the Minister of State for Standards and Services, formerly held by Milva Ekonomi, with the position of Minister of State for Local Government, which will be taken over by Arbjan Mazniku, currently a vice-mayor of the Municipality of Tirana.

The announcement of these changes came during a nearly 90-minute speech by Prime Minister Rama in the Assembly of the ruling Socialist Party. 

He highlighted the need for a new approach to address the tourist boom and reiterated his commitment to support the justice bodies despite recent anti-corruption investigations affecting former government officials and officials at various levels of government.

Edi Rama has been in office as prime minister since 2013, and his Socialist Party secured a third consecutive mandate after the 2021 elections.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 4, 2023 23:11