The current mayor of Ferizaj, Agim Aliu, said he will withdraw from the race if proven he has misused public money during his term of 16 months.
Bashkim Fazliu from the Civic Initiative for Ferizaj replied by accusing the mayor of misusing millions of Euros and called the Ferizaj Municipality a champion in lawbreaking.
The debate held at the Ferizaj theatre, “Adriana Abdullahu,” served as an arena for supporters of candidates, especially between PDK and Vetevendosje supporters.
Ali’s government was heavily criticized by AAK’s candidate, Xhavit Zariqi, and Bashkim Fazliu from the Civic Initiative. Both of them were previously members of the PDK.
Bashkim Fazliu left PDK in April last year, while Zariqi left the party after 10 years. PDK was founded in October 1999.
Ferizaj is third biggest town in Kosovo with 108,000 residents and its municipality budget for next year will be worth 23 million Euros.
Citizens owe 6.5 million euro in municipal property tax. The candidates were asked how they would collect these debts.
While Agim Aliu said his administration started collecting this debt, while rest of the candidates gave only theoretical answers regarding the property tax debt.
Agim Aliu was asked again whether the real mayor behind the scene is Elmi Reçica, member of the parliament. Ali replied by saying he runs the house, but claimed Reçica helps him coordinate relations with central institutions.
Director of Economy and Finance in Ferizaj Municipality, Mustafe Grainca, explained to BIRN during the summer that capital investment of the Ministry of Infrastructure worth 3.5 million Euros, was made possible thanks to the commitment of Mayor Ali and MP Recica.
Hysen Ibrahimi from AKR was asked about the road to his house, which was paved.
Hyseni, head of the municipal department of Economic Development from 2007 to 2010, while his party was in coalition with the PDK, said the road pavement ends right in front of his house because it is the last house in the neighborhood and it was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport.
Muharram Svarqa, LDK mayoral candidate, was asked to explain why he always mentioned bribery during his electoral rallies. Svarqa said everyone knows that in order to win a public bid you have to pay ten percent of its value. He said he would fight this phenomenon within 24 hours if elected.
The candidate of the Partia e Drejtesise (Justice Party) was asked whether he knows the city well enough since he hasn’t lived in Ferizaj since 2001. Ardian Sejdiu said he knows the city enough to govern with it.
Xhavit Zariqi, AAK’s mayoral candidate, former member of PDK, was asked whether he is going to change his political party again. Zariqi replied that’s not necessary since he is going to win the race.
Hysen Ibrahimi from AKR did not feel great when asked about an illegal building built in Ferizaj by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, a member of his party. Hyseni said there is no indictment against any of his party officials.
Svarqa said it is time to change the image of the politician faces criminal trials, flees from justice abroad and leads campaigns from prison. Fazliu said he entered the race to bring the light that’s at the end of the tunnel.
Illegal buildings, gas stations inside in residential areas, illegal landfills and other disturbing phenomena were part of the debate.
There are around 1300 illegal buildings and numerous gas stations inside residential areas.
Mayor Agim Aliu had to explain once again why he cut 50 trees, planted in the city center, to make space for construction. He said it was a legitimate action, but his opponents reacted strongly considering unilateral action of the mayor.
Fazliu filed charges against Aliu for cutting these trees.
AKR’s candidate, Ibrahim Hyseni, part of the ruling coalition in the municipality, said LDK and AAK voted the draft regulation for town’s center. Candidates of the opposition parties in Ferizaj municipal assembly said the project did not include cutting of the trees.
Vetevendosje’s candidate, Faton Topalli, said the construction in the city center started on June 15 and should have finished within 48 days, in early August. Work is still continuing as of late October.
Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove investigated capital projects of the local government and concluded that most of them exceeded the budget limits and were delayed.
Some family members of Ferizaj candidates agreed to talk about their families. The wives of the AKR and PDK candidates said they keep the money their husbands make.