The government has suspended Arben Malaj from the Bank of Albania (BoA) Supervisory Council over critical remarks about the government made in summer his year.
The law stipulates that Bank of Albania is an independent institution. The parliament is the only institution that can dismiss one of the 9 members of the BoA Board after the government has suspended them over the following grounds (Art.47/1 of the Law on BoA): inability to serve in duty, jailed with court sentence, bankruptcy, court decision prohibiting the member to work in public administration, active engagement in political activity.
The decision by the Council of Ministers seems to rely on the “active engagement in political activity” clause.
The move comes after Socialist majority MPs proposed to parliament to dismiss Malaj in July based on the same motivation. It’s not clear what happened with that proposal which appeared to be against the law.
Speaking to the Voice of America after the suspension, Malaj said he had waited for months to present his defense to parliament but he was never called.
He said the decision to suspend him now was triggered by his professional comments on the earthquake relief efforts, and it was an attempt to distract the public attention from criticism over the government management of the November 26 earthquake aftermath. Malaj added that the initiative to dismiss a BoA board member was unconstitutional, not supported by any arguments, and that he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), if dismissed.
Former BoA Governor Ardian Fullani has already lodged a complaint with the ECHR after he was arrested, dismissed and found not guilty of any charge.
Arben Malaj’s dismissal proposal back in July came after he supported artists protesting against the demolition of the National Theater. In a Facebook post, he expressed gratitude to protesting artists and wrote:
Submission to the arrogant and greedy means admitting the spiritual, social and economic poverty.
Back then, Malaj stated that the parliamentary proposal for dismissal was “political”, similar to Turkish President Erdogan’s firing of the Central Bank Governor, after the latter did not succumb to government pressure to lower interest rates.
He added that Head of PS Parliamentary Group Taulant Balla had threatened him after Malaj had refused his political requests regarding elections to the BoA board.
According to the law, if a BoA board member is not dismissed by parliament within 30 days after being suspended by the Council of Ministers, he is reinstated. Therefore, the Socialist majority is expected to fire Malaj in a parliamentary session before the end of the year.