Prime Minister Edi Rama has avoided all personal and party responsibility for MP candidates with possible criminal past running in the April 25 elections.
On Monday, following a meeting with regional party leaders, Rama stated that his Socialist Party cannot be a “police chief” to verify everyone’s past.
“I don’t intend to set up torture chambers in the party headquarters, if someone hides something,” he said. “The responsibility of anyone who lies in the self-declaration form is the responsibility of the individual, not of the party,” he added.
Rama clarified that the Socialist Party follows the legal requirements for the verification of candidates’ background but it can’t do more than that.
His statement comes after repeated calls by the U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim for political parties to exclude candidates with criminal pasts from elections. Kim put the responsibility on the party head.
The Law on Decriminalization adopted in 2015 bars persons sentenced for any of the about 80 criminal offences from being elected for public office.
In the local elections of 2019, two mayoral candidates of the Socialist Party were found to have hidden their criminal past, while the prosecution has not revealed the result of investigations for a number of others denounced by the opposition.