Visho Ajazi, the director of the Albanian Information Service (ShISh), usually called the secret service, has resigned. Even though sources in the media say that this was decided on Friday, it still was unexpected.
It has been unexpected for President Ilir Meta, for the heads of the opposition, Lulzim Basha and Monika Kryemadhi, but also for former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who had nominated Ajazi 5 years ago. It is not known whether Prime Minister Edi Rama knew beforehand about the resignation, but the way in which he came up with a replacement within less than 30 minutes suggests that he was at least informed about this surprising move.
But why did ajazi resign now and why is his resignation considered unexpected?
First, Visho wasn’t threatened by a limited mandate and wasn’t confronted with the challenge of a reelection. The director of the ShISh can remain in office as long as he wants. He can only be removed by his own desire or if the President and Prime Minister agree to dismiss him, as happened to his predecessors in 1997, 2002, and 2012. According to the current information, Ajazi had the trust of President Meta and it would have been difficult for Rama to remove him. So he didn’t feel threatened, but rather safe.
Second, it seems to become urgent, and this accepted by everyone, that in the current climate of the battle against cannabis it organized crime Ajazi should be at the helm. The ShISh were the first to raise the alarm about cannabis. He had drafted an official report about the inclusion of police officers in narcotrafficking, based on which the prosecution opened several cases against regional police directors.
In the meeting of the National Security Council called by the President Bujar Nishani, Ajazi had been the most vocal. He had declared something that until now did not become public. According to our sources, he had stated back then that the ShISh had raised the alarm about the legal and illegal import of cannabis seeds into Albania. In that meeting, he had said that 7 million cannabis seeds had entered the Albanian territory, and no one had responded. The battle against cannabis should have started with the import of the seeds. That first alarm was given by Ajazi.
Third, Albania finds itself in a very delicate moment in the battle against drugs, now that former Minister Saimir Tahiri is being investigated for drug trafficking and corruption. Both the ShISh and the prosecution have a vital role in this regard. Thus Ajazi’s resignation at this moment raises the question whether it is connected with the investigation of Tahiri.
At precisely this moment, Ajazi has decided to leave. He has decided or was forced to decide – no one can say for sure. Because no one knows what precisely happened this weekend between the director of the ShISh and the political forces in the country. Just as we don’t what has happened during the recent police action in Babica, and how this action has influenced his resignation.
The problem is that Ajazi’s resignation destroyes the balance in the executive branch. Rama has proposed Ajazi’s deputy as successor and it can be understood why. First, he could be acceptable to President Meta, who will have to confirm the proposal, and second he guarantees continuity of the collaboration with international partners, especially the US, because he has work at the ShISh for 21 years.
But Ajazi’s departure, together with the departure of Chief Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla in December, puts two institutions essential for the control of the abuses of the government firmly in the government’s hands. That’s why Ajazi’s resignation at this specific moment will continue to raise questions, without ever receiving the answer that everyone thinks about…