Albanian parliament reaches bipartisan deal on investigative commissions

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 16, 2024 00:08

Albanian parliament reaches bipartisan deal on investigative commissions

Story Highlights

  • Rama’s SP and Berisha’s DP announced Friday that they had agreed to establish two parliamentary investigative commissions.

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TIRANA, March 15, 2024 - Albania’s ruling Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama and the main opposition Democratic Party led by former Prime Minister Sali Berisha have finalized an agreement that opens the way for normalization of parliamentary life in the country after five months of nonstop opposition protests over the creation of investigative commissions and the makeup of the of the the Electoral Reform Commission.

On the first issue, the parties announced Friday afternoon that they had agreed to establish two parliamentary investigative commissions -- one on TIMS data, which deals with recording border movements, and another for two controversial healthcare PPP agreements. 

On the latter, the Special Prosecution Office is in the final phase of the investigation on a sterilization concession and it remains unclear what new elements may emerge. But the head of the DP parliamentary group, Gazmend Bardhi, said that "parliamentary investigative commissions have a different objective from the justice system. 

“From the investigations conducted so far, for example, evidence has emerged that the concession was realized in a conflict of interest, and as a result the contract should be annulled," Bardhi said.

On the issue of reforming the composition of the Electoral Reform Commission, which has a co-chair Enkeljed Alibeaj, an MP of a rival DP opposition group that is now in the minority, an alternative solution was found -- to let it expire without any finished product. The commission's mandate ends next week after almost two years of deadlock. 

Socialists do not seem interested in extending its mandate any further. Some urgent issues, most likely, will be dealt with by the group of deputies led by Bardhi, in the new structure agreed among them, which will be set up within the Law Commission, with deputies from both sides to handle laws requiring three-fifths, as well as significant legal interventions needed by the country in its EU integration process.

The agreement was welcomed by the U.S. Embassy. In a statement distributed on social networks, it emphasized that "we encourage deputies to continue to show commitment to democracy for the benefit of the Albanian people."

The head of the European Union Delegation to Tirana, Silvio Ginzato, also wrote on social media that "I appreciate the leadership and responsibility shown by the parties in reaching the agreement. The European Union Delegation has repeatedly emphasized that a functional assembly is key to the EU integration process."

The agreement seems to be the first sign of compromise from the ruling SP, which had dismissed the opposition led by Berisha for years. The opposition leader is under house arrest as part of an investigation over a land deal 13 years ago although no charges have been filed. 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 16, 2024 00:08