Electoral debate: Gjakove

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Five candidates from different political parties running for mayor of Gjakova were confronted with various municipal issues at the debate held by BIRN KOsovo. Candidates aiming for Mayor Pal Lekaj’s position mainly accused him of not fulfilling his promises, although this did not stop Lekaj to once again promising his citizens a better life.

Apart from the current mayor of the Gjakova municipality, Lekaj from AAK, who is running to secure another term, the candidates include Luan Gola from LDK, Hajdar Beqa from PDK, Arberie Nagavci of Vetevendosje and Mimoza Kusari-Lila from AKR.

Gjakova municipality is the only municipality to have two female candidates running for mayor.
During the debate the candidates of AKR, LVV and LDK criticized Lekaj’s current government in Gjakova. The PDK candidate, however, tried to attract voters by bringing up the Prime Minister and the Government of Kosovo, as if the elections were national and not local.

Once again Pal Lekaj from AAK and Mimoza Kusari-Lila from AKR are facing each other in the race for Gjakova. In their last confrontation, in the 2009 elections, Lekaj arose as the winner.

Both parties were confronted about the employment issue. Lekaj, who won the elections four years ago, had promised seven to eight thousand jobs. He apologized for failing to fulfill this promise, however promised he would achieve it during the next term.

Kusari-Lila avoided talking directly about the employment issue by tackling the infrastructure development of the town.

LDK’s Gola could not explain why his party keeps on losing votes in Gjakova, securing only 1,000 in the 2009 elections.

Gola reasoned that he does not know why the LDK has lost support since he was not a member of the governing structures of LDK in Gjakova before.

Beqa from PDK was asked why he, as the executive chief of the Iber-Lepenc public company, employed his wife. Not managing to answer the question, he also failed to recall even when he got married. Likewise he failed to give an answer as to why he employed Adem Grabovci’s wife, another member of PDK, at Iber-Lepenc.

Arberie Nagavci from Vetevendosje was asked by Gjakova citizens and investigative researchers of BIRN why she spent more time on trainings than in the elementary school, Yll Morina, where she was the headmistress.

She said such allegations come from slandering members of the ruling party – AAK, because, according to her, many people from school’s staff are members of this party.

Nagavci praised her time as the headmistress of the school, saying to saw that many projects were completed at the school.

Part of the debate was concerned Lekaj’s attempt to repair Gjakova’s Old Bazaar by replacing old cobblestones with flat stone tiles from Gllareva. The project was considered harmful to the cultural heritage and halted by the Ministry of Culture.

Nagavci from LVV accused the mayor Lekaj of selling old cobblestones or giving them to private people to pave their gardens. Lekaj denied such accusations, and was again accused once more by his opponents of undermining the economic development of the Old Bazaar.

Lekaj was criticized for giving out tenders without following necessary procedures. Gola from LDK, also criticized the mayor of Gjakova for not presenting the 1 million-euro worth project for reparation of the Old Bazaar to the town’s municipal assembly.

Mimoza Kusari-Lila spoke out about the current property situation, stating that four municipal officials have benefited from the publically owned properties.

Each of the candidates spoke about fixing roads and the lack of building permits, while Lekaj took criticism for the recycling system, which has not been completed.

In addition to the above, all candidates promised the citizens of Gjakova once again that they will pay more devotion to sports, running water, health, economic development and employment.