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Lindita Nikolla holds hostage the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court for Olta Xhaçka

Lindita Nikolla holds hostage the implementation of the decision of the

The Assembly continues to block the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court regarding the mandate of the deputy and former minister Olta Xhaçka.

At the end of January, the Constitutional Court annulled as unconstitutional two decisions of the Assembly to block the transfer to this court of the mandate of MP Olta Xhaçka, but 8 months later these decisions have not yet been implemented by the Assembly.

At the beginning of July, the Council of Legislation, after considering these decisions for several months, came out with two reports for the Speaker of the Assembly, Lindita Nikolla, as the legal authority that will decide on the other steps that the Assembly will follow.

The majority report suggested returning the issue to the Council for Regulation and Mandates, while the minority opinion suggested following the previous parliamentary practice to send directly to the session for voting the opposition's request that Xhaçka's mandate go to the Constitutional Court for interpretation.

Asked by BIRN why no further steps were taken to implement the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the Speaker of the Assembly justified herself with the busy agenda at the beginning of the parliamentary session.

Her chief of staff, Kosta Bajraba, said that "the President of the Assembly will soon call the Council for Regulation, Mandates and Immunity to examine the issue in the spirit of the decision of the GJK". He added that it was not possible to convene this council earlier 'due to the busy work calendar'.

However, this argument is not convincing for the chairman of the democratic parliamentary group, Gazmend Bardhi, who told BIRN that he has officially requested and raised concerns that the decision of the Constitutional Court be implemented.

"I have repeatedly requested this issue in the Conference of Presidents", he said, adding that, "the non-implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court is an act that seriously violates the rule of law".

According to Bardhi, the implementation of the decision requires the Speaker of the Assembly to include this issue in the plenary session and the Assembly decides to send the case to the Constitutional Court for judgment.

With two successive motions in June and July of 2022, the opposition MPs demanded the removal of the Socialist MP's mandate, after her husband, former Socialist MP Artan Gaçi, was declared a strategic investor.

The Council of Mandates after several months of debate came out with two reports and in November 2022 the majority voted against sending the incompatibility of the mandate to the Constitutional Court.

Both groups of the Democratic Party addressed special requests to the Constitutional Court asking for the annulment of the decision of the Assembly and the fundamental interpretation of the case.

The court decided to accept the request of 1/10 of the deputies and returned the case to the Assembly, calling the decision of the majority blocking the sending of the case to the Constitutional Court unconstitutional.

In the next decision, the Constitutional Court dismissed the request of 1/5 of the MPs who requested the fundamental treatment of the case and the making of a decision on the incompatibility of the mandate, not legitimizing it as a subject that moves the court on this issue.

Xhaçka held the position of Foreign Minister until the beginning of September, when Prime Minister Edi Rama announced her dismissal without any arguments.

The 'strategic investor' status for her husband was signed by Rama and several ministers, members of the Committee for Strategic Investments, while later by a government decision he was given the right to long-term use of the sea shores and the beach in front of the hotel.

Through a lawyer, Xhaçka defended himself before the Council of Mandates that he had declared a 'conflict of interest' and had not participated in that meeting.

Gaç's company received in March 2021 the status of 'strategic investor', but in July 2021, the Committee of Strategic Investments passed the benefits of the status to the company 'AGTÇ Hotel Management', which was later revealed to belong to Xhaçka's sister-in-law.

The 'strategic investor' status foresees public benefits for the winner, VAT reduction, accelerated administrative procedures, access to infrastructure and the electricity network, as well as the use of state land as a beach in front of the hotel./BIRN

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