Parliament Ignores ONM, Violates Constitution

During an extraordinary session yesterday evening, boycotted by the opposition, Parliament has decided to send the two lists of applicants and recommendations of the International Monitoring Operation (ONM) back to the National Ombudsman.

Of the 193 applicants for the three vetting institutions, 21 qualified and passed the scrutiny of the ONM, while 79 applications might be reconsidered by the parliamentary ad-hoc committee based on additional evidence.

Gramoz Ruçi, leader of the parliamentary group of PS, however, asked the National Ombudsman to provide an additional period of 7 days for the completion of those 79 applications, as well as receiving additional applications:

Let’s have the National Ombudsman give these applications 7 days time to complete these formal requirements so that the ad-hoc committee has a broad basis and not only 21 candidates for 28 [the correct number is 27 – Exit] places. During this time there have also been complaints, of those who haven’t been able to apply, and also those should be given a chance. Let’s give them another 7 days time […]. This work needs to be done as we have started it. The ad-hoc committee has to have not only 21 candidates for 28 places but even 100 or more.

First, the ONM suggested that not the National Ombudsman evaluate the 79 incomplete applications, but the ad-hoc committee:

As a result, the competent ad hoc parliamentary committee might want to consider reviewing those applications, to possibly request the missing certificates and more accurately inform its decision on a possible reconsideration of those candidates for the voting list.

Parliament has thus ignored the ONM recommendation.

Second, the Constitution does not provide for a procedure of sending back the lists to the National Ombudsman. It also does not allow extended deadlines, and it certainly does not allow new candidates to be added to the list. Should Parliament intend to proceed like this, these new candidates would first need to be assessed by the ONM before they could be added to the list.

It is unclear whether this will indeed happen, as the Constitution does not provide any procedural framework in which late admissions can be assessed by the ONM. This means, that the decision of the ONM to accept reviewing the late admissions or not will, once again, politicize the role of the ONM and threaten its neutrality.

And finally, Ruçi, the last Minister of Interior Affairs of the communist regime, shows that he understands frighteningly little of the procedures prescribed by the Constitution. The first ad-hoc committee only determines the final list of qualifying candidates, and does not, as he seems to suggest, elect them.

It is the role of the ad-hoc committee to pass the 79 potentially qualifying candidates from the non-qualifying to the qualifying list with a 4/6 majority of votes, not the National Ombudsman’s.

In a response on Facebook, PD deputy Oerd Bylykbashi attacked both the recommendations of the ONM and the unconstitutionality of the decisions taken in Parliament:

In which article of the Constitution or the laws did they find these 7 days and or this procedure that they’re doing? There is not such deadline. At least, Parliament should have passed an amendment to the vetting law, in which either new deadlines are decided […]. With this decision, Parliament has violated the Constitution because they needed 84 votes to change the law. […] Parliament is treating the candidates unequally. Some of the candidates that competed earlier have been able to complete their application in […] 21 days, whereas the others […] only 7.

Bylykbashi further contends that to fill all the 27 slots, “at least double the amount of candidates” is needed. As Exit explained before, the mathematics beyond the procedure that is still ahead of us, is slightly more complex.

It is not clear whether the National Ombudsman will accept to play the Parliament’s game with the Constitution and the impartiality of the vetting procedure.