Thursday, April 21, 2011

Albania names new interior minister amid campaign incidents

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has named Bujar Nishani as the new Interior Minister to replace Lulzim Basha, who is running for mayor of the national capital Tirana, the government said on Wednesday.

Nishani, who served as Justice Minister after Berisha's ruling Democratic Party won a second mandate in the 2009 elections contested by the opposition, comes to the Interior Ministry after having run it during the Democrats' previous four-year term. Nishani's appointment came after the police commander of a special riot police unit did not obey the orders of a deputy interior minister performing the duties of the minister.

Deputy Interior Minister Avenir Peka accused special forces commander Shemsi Prenci of slander after Prenci accused Peka of breaking the law by ordering him to intervene against opposition Socialist supporters in a suburb of Tirana.
Both have lodged complaints with prosecutors, who are looking into the case.

By law, state police is independent and only the general police director can order the actions of police.
Similar incidents across the Balkan nation ahead of the local government elections on May 8, which the European Union expects to be free and fair, could have obliged Berisha to name Nishani to oversee the work of security forces.

Along with Tourism Minister Ferdinand Xhaferraj, Basha resigned his government job two weeks ago to challenge the opposition Socialist Party leader Edi Rama, the current mayor of Tirana who is running for a fourth term. Xhaferraj is running for mayor of his native port town of Durres, one of Albania's biggest cities which has been run by the opposition Socialist Party over the last decade.

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