The National Assembly of the Democratic Party (PD) in Albania voted to nullify an earlier convention held last week, barring individuals labelled as “non grata” by the US from holding executive posts within the party.
Countries like the US declare individuals “persona non grata” as a diplomatic strategy, in order to indicate that a person is unwelcome in, and effectively banned from, the country. In 2016, for example, then-President Barack Obama declared 35 Russian government officials as non grata in response to a Russian hacking scandal.
The former President of Albania, Sali Berisha, was declared non grata in May this year by the US Department of State over corruption allegations. The designation cost him his membership in the PD’s parliamentary group, and led to a dispute with the current PD chairman Lulzim Basha.
As such, the PD’s decision reached on December 18 specifically targets Berisha and his supporters. In a DP National Assembly he initiated and led on December 11, those present voted to sack the current leadership and reinstate Berisha within the PD’s parliamentary group. Delegates also voted on a new statute for the PD, in addition to a new symbol and seal.
“I haven’t seen such enthusiasm in the Democratic Party for many years,” wrote Belind Kellici, who headed the assembly. “When I have white hair I will proudly say that on December 11, 2021 I was also there, among thousands of young people, to lay a foundation stone in the Democratic Party!”
According to Jemin Gjana, the head of yesterday’s December 18 convention, more than 5,000 members participated in this most recent event. They voted to nullify Berisha’s December 11 convention and its decisions, and agreed to bar individuals designated as non grata by the US from holding executive posts within the PD party.
The National Assembly is the highest decision-making body within the PD, with more than 7,600 delegates made up of members from PD structures at all levels across Albania. The Assembly can be convened by the chairman, or one fourth of the PD membership.
Regarding his December 11 convention, Berisha asserted that 4,934 people participated in the event, with 4,446 voting to oust Basha and the current party leadership. This figure is inconsistent with the more than 5,000 members who purportedly voted yesterday, assuming no overlap between the two conventions.
Albania’s coming presidential election is set to take place on 24 May 2022.