Head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha reacted to the Tirana Prosecution interrogating him on the issue of the DP’s lobbying contracts in the US before and during the 2017 parliamentary election campaign, which were alleged of being illegal.
Basha called the prosecution allegations laughable and said Prime Minister Edi Rama cannot scare him to quit, in context of the opposition having resigned its parliamentary mandates and protesting for Rama’s resignation since February.
“I don’t care about these accusations and political investigation. Edi Rama thinks he will scare me or make the opposition back off, but he will soon see I don’t scare or withdraw. This absurd investigation has been under his sleeve for almost a year, without evidence or any fact against the Democratic Party. Now that he is desperate to diffuse attention from the political crisis and his cooperation with crime to manipulate the elections, Rama has decided to make up absurd accusations to distract the public,” Basha said.
He said these are methods “similar to Putin and Maduro in order to shut their mouths and neutralize political opponents and destroy democracy,” but will only further “deepen the pit where Edi Rama has fallen and make his end inevitable.”
“Today, Albanians understand how unprotected they are in front of the crime that is in power: there is a prosecution filled with political and corrupt prosecutors, there is no Supreme Court, there is no Constitutional Court, while the overwhelming Assembly is filled with politicians criminalized or directly representative of the crime,” Basha said.
The prosecution began verifying PD lobbying contracts with several US companies in November 2017 to clarify funding sources for these contracts and to see if the transactions were legal.
The issue surfaced when American lobbying firm ‘Muzin Capitol Partners’ supplemented with additional information its legally binding declarations for the Department of Justice and the left-oriented Mother Jones magazine wrote a lengthy report on it.
According to ‘Muzin’ statements, the entity has received three payments in the amount of $675,000 for its work in favor of the Democratic Party in 2017: the first payment on March 24, 2017 was made by the firm “Biniatta Trade LP “, worth $150,000, while the other two payments were made by the Democratic Party, one on March 27, for $25,000, and the other on June 9 for $500,000. The DP has only taken credit for one of the payments, coming from party resources.
The Democratic Party has also denied any connection with the “Biniatta Trade LP” firm, which is registered in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is owned by a chain of companies registered in Belize – a Central American state, known as a fiscal haven.
Meanwhile, the political deadlock the country is facing, as well as the opposition’s decision to boycott upcoming June 30 local elections – backed by President Ilir Meta’s decision to cancel them a week ago – has led to a chaotic escalation of relations between the country’s power sides.
After Meta announced he will be postponing elections date to maintain the country’s democratic functionality, Rama vowed the elections will be held, while having the parliament start proceedings to remove Meta from office – a move that is illegitimate in the context of lack of a Constitutional Court.
Similarly, over the course of the last opposition protests, a number of DP officials have been escorted to the police for participation, causing more civil unrest.
Both sides have been criticized by the international monitoring forces for inciting unnecessary violence and compromising democracy in the country.