Belind Kellici is facing a campaign of criticism regarding how he registered himself in a Baltimore university and how he managed to convert his four years of studying for a Bachelor’s degree into a Master degree. The criticism and accusations started a few months ago from a former activist of Sali Berisha’s party, Evi Kokalary and were picked by the media at the beginning of the electoral campaign.
At first, it all looked like a struggle between the different clans within the Democratic Party. However, the accusations have gained traction also because of Kellici’s vague explanations regarding his high school degree and how he managed to convert his Bachelor’s into a Master’s degree in 2010. If we were to carefully look at the procedures, we would realize that there is room for debate from both sides of the argument. While this is not the classic case of forging official documents, it still involves several illegal manoeuvres that may have bypassed official procedures.
However it is interesting that, while Kellici is being cornered by the media and his opponents within the party, there has been no reaction to the accusations. Sali Berisha so far has remained silent, not to say that in private conversations he might even have expressed his regret for supporting Kellici. This silent tension has increased especially following the opening ceremony of the electoral campaign, during which, a large number of people who had cheered for Kellici, left as soon as Berisha took the podium.
The only one who has supported Belind Kellici until now is the head of the Democratic Party’s Youth Forum, Besart Xhaferi, who is also a personal friend of Kellici and has a long experience of recruiting students to study abroad. Berisha on the other hand, continues to maintain his distance. Furthermore, many people close to Berisha are not keen on getting involved in this battle and their hesitation is clearly a consequence of Berisha’s stance.
Personally, I do not believe that Berisha’s hesitation to get involved in this campaign is the result of his humiliation during the opening ceremony of the electoral campaign. Furthermore, him being boycotted by people that day was not planned by Belind Kellici and was rather message from the voters who wanted to warn Berisha that they have lost their interest in him. This is even more obvious when you notice that the same scenario has been repeated in many of his meetings with voters across Albania.
Therefore, this is not a conflict created by Belind Kellici, but rather the result of Berisha’s own political history. He is now realizing that he is not irreplaceable in his party and what’s worse; he is terrified by the idea of being shadowed by someone who is on good terms with the US Embassy. It is the same suspicion that Berisha has for Igli Cara and Luciano Boci, respectively running for the municipalities of Durres and Elbasan. However, neither Cara nor Boci have faced an aggressive campaign like the one against Belind Kellici. Hence, he continues to remain distant, even though in the past he has gone so far as defending candidates that have been accused of political murders.
Now I am almost confident that, following this article, Berisha will rush to defend Kellici. However, he has already spread his negative message by remaining silent for two weeks, despite the attacks and even worse, by letting Ilir Meta protect him.