Albania bans ex-communist secret police from public posts

23rd December 2008, Comments 0 comments

The United States, Britain and the OSCE had expressed concerns about the legislation, calling for more consultations in the former communist country.

Tirana -- Albania's parliament adopted on Monday a law to remove from public posts people linked to the communist-era secret police, despite international concerns about its political implications.

The parliament, dominated by the ruling Democratic party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, passed the law with 74 votes in favor while two MPs opposed it.

The opposition led by the Socialist party boycotted the vote in the 140-seat parliament, saying they were not against the law itself but its possible political exploitation by Berisha and his party for their personal profit.

Opponents said they would call on the top judicial body in the country, the Constitutional Court, to rule on the law's legality.

The law bans from public posts all people linked to the former secret police, Sigurimi, from November 1944 to December 1990, when the multiparty system was introduced.

The United States, Britain and the OSCE had expressed concerns about the legislation, calling for more consultations in the former communist country, one of the poorest nations in Europe.

"The law has serious constitutional and political implications, and postponing the vote to allow for wider consultation and public debate would be welcome," said the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The opposition claimed Berisha and his party would use the law to sack justice officials involved in investigations of widespread corruption in the country, with cabinet members suspected of wrongdoing.

The law establishes a five-member commission charged with checking public officials -- from the country's president to high school masters.

Late communist dictator Enver Hoxha led his Balkan country through more than four decades of international isolation using the feared intelligence service to maintain his grip on power.

AFP/Expatica

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