This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Roland Qafoku
From a minister who has received many praises, he’s now being attacked from all sides. From a minister who was considered rigorous in applying the law, suddenly, for the opposition, he’s a minister who has ties with crime and who abuses with office. From a minister who was considered a good choice and the only one who put PM Rama in his place, to a minister who finds himself in a very fragile position. But what is truly happening with Fatmir Xhafaj? Is this attack launched against him a routine attack by the opposition or is it more than this? There are 10 strong elements that converge in one single point, giving the impression that a plot has been devised against the 62nd Interior minister in the history of the Albanian state with the aim of removing him from office. A plot which reinforces the unwritten rule that to be an Interior minister in Albania means that you’re a person who knows everything about anyone, but at the same time, you’re also targeted from all sides. These 10 strong elements give the impression that there is a fluid coordination from the left and the right to give Xhafaj a hard blow and remove him from the position of Interior minister. Will Xhafaj be the Interior minister who will be sacrificed and will he be part of the list of cabinet changes that will take place in September? I am not completely certain on this, but what matters is the fact that he’s currently under a lot of pressure and everyone is doing everything to remove him.
1.During his 9 months in office as minister of Interior, Fatmir Xhafaj has not tolerated criminal figures, turning into a big obstacle. The attacks that he launched against several criminal groups meant these groups now had an enemy and this enemy was the minister of Interior, Fatmir Xhafaj.
2.Minister Xhafaj is the person who should take credit the most about the vetting process which is now underway. He gave the idea, he is implementing it and this process has led to the resignation of 500 police officers, while thousands more are expected to leave as a result of this process. Meanwhile, many police officials who have ties with criminal gangs are also expected to leave. This is expected to be the biggest dismantling of police structures since 1990 in Albania. Of course, all of heads of police who will be forced to leave as a result of this process, will target only one man: minister Fatmir Xhafaj.
3.The relations that minister Xhafaj had with the international community managed to provoke jealousy and also fear in PM Edi Rama and the entire Albanian political class.
4.Fatmir Xhafaj may be the only cabinet minister who has expressed his disagreement with the PM and this hasn’t made the latter very happy. The media has reported on many cases where Xhafaj has made it clear to the PM as to where he should interfere and where he cannot interfere.
5.Xhafaj’s rivalry to replace Rama at the post of the PM became more than clear when foreign partners started to have frequent meetings with him. It’s true that Fatmir Xhafaj has not aspired about the post of the minister of Interior or the PM’s, but in case of a crisis and at a time when the international community did not have very good relations with the PM, Xhafaj was the most likely candidate to replace him. And this has not made Edi Rama very happy.
6.The conflict between Fatmir Xhafaj and his predecessor, Samir Tahiri is one of the reasons Xhafaj finds himself in this position. Truth be told, with Xhafaj’s nomination as minister of Interior, many incriminated structures were dismantled, but most importantly, the cultivation of cannabis was stopped. This provoked Saimir Tahiri’s reaction. First through his silence and then through words. On his speech, the day when he gave up his mandate as MP, Tahiri launched strong accusations against Xhafaj, explaining why he did not speak about the amount of drugs that was seized and why he accused police of being incriminated. Then, how is it possible that immediately after this declaration, a wave of attacks started against Xhafaj?
7.The opposition’s attack against Xhafaj by using his brother is a little absurd. This story which started in 2012, is suddenly unfolded on 10 May 2018. Why now? Who initiated it and who supported it? Is the public opinion entitled to cast doubt on the opposition and ask a few questions relating to the time when the bill in question has been voted, while the opposition found out just now?
8.Xhafaj’s authority grew significantly with the voting of the bill for the reform. Many judges, prosecutors but also members of criminal organizations, will not forgive him about the “contribution” that he has made. Up until today, there are at least 30 representatives who have left the justice system and it looks like the list will become even longer. It goes without saying that all of those who have left see Xhafaj as the person who drafted this reform, but they also see him as their archenemy.
9.The opposition’s attack seems to have been coordinated with Rama’s attack. At first glance, it seems absurd, but if the facts are connected, it looks like a poker of spies, which in fact coincides with the methods that police use in their work.
10.Fatmir Xhafaj’s fate is in the hands of the international community. If the USA casts doubts, in all likelihood, Fatmir Xhafaj will no longer be minister in September. We just need to wait and see not only who is right, but who will be the winner as well!
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy