Electoral debate: Obilic

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In the “Life in Kosovo” electoral debate in the Municipality of Obilic, seven candidates running for Mayor have promised to fight pollution, competing with one another over who would plant more trees if elected. Respiratory diseases and cancer are 30 percent more present in Obilic than in other municipalities due to pollution caused by the power plants. Some of the candidates have asked that a portion of the profit generated from the coal be given to the municipality where majority of reserves are located. The audience of about 300 citizens, who took part in the debate, was very noisy, especially when the current Mayor, Mehmet Krasniqi, spoke.

All the candidates running for Mayor of Obilic agreed in one point: that in this municipality it is impossible to breathe freely due to enormous pollution caused by coal mines and the power plants.

In his first two minutes, the Justice Party’s candidate, Xhelal Krasniqi, said the central government should give Obiliq, 2 to 3 million euro a year, out of the tax of 80 million euros that it gains from coal, in order to improve the situation in this municipality where the majority of coal reserves are located. On the other hand, the other candidates promised to reach deals with KEK to improve the environment in Obilic.

The current Mayor, Mehmet Krasniqi, from LDK, Vehbi Sadiku from PDK, Labinot Hashani from Vetevendosje, Xhafer Gashi from AAK, Hilmi Halimi from AKR and Bashkim Klinaku from LB are also running to become Obilic’s mayor.  

Vetevendosje’s candidate, Labinot Hashani, promised that if he gets elected, he will plants 200 trees in a 100-hectare park in Obilic, while Hilmi Halimi of AKR said that this is not enough and at least twice as many should be planted. The Justice Party’s candidate said that every citizen of Obilic should plant a tree for his or her birthday, and this way a green ring around the power plants could be created. A similar promise was made by AKR’s candidate but he did not specify numbers.

Other promises were very general, and revolved around economic development and the improvement of business climate.

As far as the specific questions for the candidates, Krasniqi from LDK was asked why he had signed that decision to place his wife, Xhevahire in the position of principal of a primary school. Krasniqi said he did so in order to promote women to decision-making positions. The AAK candidate was also asked about a conflict of interest case, since he had won a tender to produce unique uniforms for the Kosovo Security Force. Gashi admitted that he got the tender through “friends” but that he would not employ these friends if he gets elected. Jeta Xharra also asked Shukri Klinaku why smoking is allowed in his office even that it forbidden by law, while PDK’s candidate, who has reached retirement age, was asked why he was not creating space for younger generations.

The wives of the candidates spoke about the kinds of food their husbands like, ranging from flija to lazanja. It was also revealed that the candidate of Vetevendosje and his wife met during a protest in Merdare last year. The wife of PDK candidate spoke of love letters and white little lies she told her father in order to meet with him.