Speaker of the Assembly Kadri Veseli in Parliament. Photo: AP/Visar Kryeziu, Beta

Veseli dismisses all PDK officials with links to corruption

During a press conference on Wednesday, PDK chairman and speaker of the Assembly Kadri Veseli announced that all PDK officials indicted for the crimes of corruption, nepotism or misuse of official duty will be dismissed from the party.

Kadri Veseli, speaker of the Kosovo Assembly and chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, removed all PDK officials from party and institutional positions that have been handed indictments by the Kosovo judiciary at a press conference on Wednesday.

“I have decided that those politically appointed  by the Democratic Party of Kosovo in public institutions who have indictments that are connected with suspicions of misconduct, corruption or nepotism to resign from their positions immediately,” said Veseli on Wednesday. “Likewise, I ask for those who are elected through voting into Kosovo’s institutions to also resign from their positions.”

Veseli, who was re-elected as head of the party on Sunday, pledged that he would do everything possible to fight abuse of power within the party.

“This is what citizens are waiting for from us. They are fed up with words and want to see concrete action being taken. There is no other option but to act,” he said. “And we, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, are setting a new standard of ethics: we are starting with ourselves and then this standard will be laid down across all segments of governance.”

Veseli said that those affected by this decision may be reinstated to their positions at a later date.

“When the final verdict states that they are not guilty, all these people will return to their merited place within PDK and Kosovo institutions,” he said.

Among those affected by the decision is Besim Beqaj, the current Minister of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, who has been  indicted through the well-known ‘Pronto Affair,’ where leaked calls between ministers and other high officials discussing the appointments of party members to key positions in different independent agencies and state institutions were published.

Veseli himself was implicated in the Pronto Affair in 2016, when media outlet Insajderi claimed to be in possession of over 1,000 more recordings of PDK officials, including him.

Also suspended are former Minister for Transport and Telecommunications, Adem Grabovci, PDK official, Zenun Pajaziti, deputy minister in the Ministry of Defence, Agim Ceku, PDK branch chairman in Gjilan, Qemajl Mustafa and Njazi Kryeziu, an adviser to Veseli and member of the PDK Steering Committee.

The Pronto Affair has been followed by numerous instances of cronyism within Kosovo institutions. Since 2016, party-affiliated appointments to public institutions have been common, with the international community calling on the Kosovo Government to end its culture of nepotism.

The head of the PDK branch in Kline, Sokol Bashota, is on the list of people who are expected to be dismissed. Bashota was convicted in May this year of making false property declarations and was sentenced to six months in prison on parole, along with a fine of one thousand euros.

BIRN asked Bashota whether he would resign from his post following the decision of Veseli to dismiss all party officials who have an indictment or conviction. Bashota chose to respond briefly via SMS. “I am not convicted of corruption, nepotism or for misusing my official position,” Bashota said briefly for BIRN.

However, the offense he was sentenced for is considered both corruption and misuse of official duty.

Article 430 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kosovo states that failure to make a declaration of property, income, gifts, property or other financial obligation is punishable by a fine or by imprisonment of up to three years, and a false declaration can result in six years of prison time.

The European Commission, in its progress report on Kosovo for 2019, said that appointing officials under suspicion of these offenses “continues to undermine the government’s credibility, coherence and effectiveness.”

“The fact that the government includes a number of ministers who have been indicted for offences involving corruption and abuse of office is damaging for the government’s image and its stated commitment to fight corruption and impunity at all levels,” the report reads.

20/06/2019 - 11:35

20 June 2019 - 11:35

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