By Roland Qafoku
Up until Friday, Sander Lleshaj held the military rank of brigadier general. Now, he holds the post of Interior minister decreed by the President following a 20 day clash between the head of the government and the head of the state.
But, the 63-rd Interior minister in the history of the Albanian state and the 25th after the overthrow of communism, has a number of challenges in front of him. 10 of these challenges are decisive and they determine his fate as the head of the most important government cabinet.
These are difficult challenges which require honesty, determination, integrity and compliance with the law, qualities which, truth be told, Sander Lleshaj does posses. Thursday saw the start of a real test for the general/minister. Based on his work, we will see how his boss and his collaborators will once again call him general.
These are the challenges that he faces:
RESTORE FAITH ON POLICE
The first challenge that Interior minister, Sander Lleshaj will face is to restore faith on police. By changing four Interior ministers in the past 5 years, police feels as if it has received a hard blow. Faith on police no longer exist. It’s minister Lleshaj’s duty to restore faith on police.
POLICE SHOULD NOT BE INFLUENCED BY POLITICIANS
Sander Lleshaj needs to do something that each minister promises when taking office, but nobody keeps it. Lleshaj should comply with the law governing State Police and not interfere in its job. The best model in the past 28 years where a minister has known how to keep his distance with the State Police was Bujar Nishani. Of course, this majority does not want to use Nishani as a model, but it looks like the military discipline has been more important and more efficient than the political affiliation. And in this point of view, they should recognize the merits of the opponent.
ORDER WITHIN POLICE
Another important challenge that minister Lleshaj needs to address is to establish order within police. The new minister has an advantage. A while ago, the majority voted in favour of the bill concerning vetting within police ranks and all he needs to do now is apply it. But this process is more important than the one in justice, because every investigation and every criminal case starts with the police officer and then it ends up in the hands of a prosecutor and a judge. And no matter how honest and capable judges are, if a police officer destroys evidence and abuses with the case, there’s no judge in the world who would be able to convict murderers and criminals. Meanwhile, millionaire police officers within the police force should no longer be tolerated. They’re the reason why many consider vetting within police as injustice. But, the connections that exist between police and criminal organizations are more serious than this. Those police officers who inform criminals before authorities manage to arrest them, should leave police ranks!
WAR AGAINST GANGS
The new minister, Sander Lleshaj should continue to wage war against criminal gangs where his predecessor, Fatmir Xhafaj left it. Fight against them is a process which should not stop and this is something that the international community has stressed as part of the country’s EU integration. Of course, fight against gangs is not led by the Interior ministry, but by State Police.
ARRESTING “TOUGH GUYS”
There’s no need for the Police Commissioner to be present at the former-Bllok area. That area has its own inspectors and the precinct. If those instances do not do their job and armed people, people in possession of drugs and wanted people roam freely in that area, then those police officers can no longer serve in the force.
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Fight against corruption in all fronts is a very important process. First of all, within police ranks and then in all other levels. It’s a challenge which in cooperation with other institutions, it will yield results if there’s a serious commitment.
FIGHT AGAINST CANNABIS AND DRUG TRAFFIC
Although there have been achievements in the fight against drugs, Albania has not yet been removed from the map. First, Interior ministry and police must publicly admit that this government failed on its mission to fight drugs. Secondly, they need to admit that cannabis spread all over the country and the government has taken this fight seriously only in the past two years. If this ministry does not admit the situation with cannabis, then there’s no point in saying that it has fought it.
Former Interior minister Fatmir Xhafaj restored a tradition which had almost disappeared in Albania. Community policing means that police should not remain within closed premises, but it should get out and establish close relations with the community. One of the most difficult tasks that minister Lleshaj has is to continue this in practice, because this is the only way police would restore faith among the population and show that police is not the enemy. Western experience has shown that the majority of the population and police are always together in fighting criminals. People and police should forge an alliance in fighting crime. This is why community policing is very important and minister Lleshaj should make this his priority.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy