From: Exit Staff
Rama Defends Friendship with Ex-Mayor Banned from US and Implicated in Vote Buying

Prime Minister Edi Rama has defended his friendship with disgraced ex-Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako.

Not only did Dako’s voice appear on leaked prosecution wiretaps colluding with criminal gangs to rig the 2017 general election in favor of the Socialist Party, but he is banned from entering the USA because of his “involvement in significant corruption”.

Rama then assigned him to lead the PS electoral campaign for the 30 June local elections where the PS ran uncontested and ‘won’ in all municipalities.

Rama’s conversation with journalist Rober Rakipllari on ‘Opinion’ TV show last night is as follows:

Rakipllari: Let me tell you a fact. The US State Department has barred two people from the Socialist Party… Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako is involved in significant corruption…

Rama: Former mayor. He is not a mayor anymore.

Rakipllari: Effectively he is a mayor. I saw him by your side when you went there after the earthquake. The State Department says this man is involved in significant corruption, and he and his family are barred forever from entering the US. Yet, you keep him on your side. Tom Doshi is involved in significant corruption. You did your electoral campaign with him to have Valdrin Pjetri elected mayor, another person to fall down due to decriminalization law. And what is your stance now toward them, your ethical, moral stance?

Rama: Vangjush Dako has been and will be my friend. In order for you to be clear on this, it’s not up to the US State Department to determine who I am friends with. It is my morals and my convictions to determine that.
Even if my friend end up in prison tomorrow, he will still be my friend. Vangjush Dako and I have never… neither did he ever ask, nor did I ever ask [any favor], nor collaborated, nor asked to collaborate in violation of the laws of the Republic of Albania. Never.