The Paradox of an Appointment

After the last convocation of the Parliament, we urged the parliamentary majority to give the presidency of the Security and Defense Committee to the opposition. As this is the most important supervisory working body of the Parliament which should establish control over key levers of power, this solution would be natural as well as in accordance with the comparative practice. Our proposal wasn’t accepted, and now the parliamentary opposition fails to reach the agreement even about the Deputy of Committee which belongs to them.

In the previous convocation of the Parliament, Goran Danilović served as Deputy President of Security and Defense Committee, until his resignation in 2009. Danilović resigned because he was not allowed to access the classified information of the National Security Agency, although he should have been allowed, being a Committee member.

For the last five years, this Committee did not have a Deputy President. Who knows for how much long it would be the case, if recently adopted Law on basic principles of intelligence and security sector does not stipulate that the Deputy President is the member of the Bureau for Operational Coordination of the Work of Security Services. This solution is adopted on the basis of the proposal of MPs from Positive Montenegro Party, whose initiative was aiming to establish better oversight. It was adopted in the Parliament without a single “against” vote, although this kind of solution doesn’t have firm ground in regard to the principle of the separation of powers.

Snežana Jonica was appointed as the Deputy President, who is the MP and the Vice-President of Socialist National Party (SNP), one of the opposition parties in the Parliament. She was appointed by the votes of board of Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), Positive Montenegro Party and Bosniak Party. Jonica didn’t get the support from only one member of DPS, Obrad Mišo Stanišić, who explained his decision saying that he would never support any candidate from the opposition, as long as the candidate doesn’t enjoy the joint support of the entire opposition group.

Members of the Committee of the Democratic Front (DF) left the session after their candidate hasn’t been supported by the majority, with the promise of “leaving the board until further notice”. This was followed by public accusations against Pajović, Jonica and SNP. Although the reaction seems understandable, the result is that the DF, as few times before, is giving up its parliamentary powers, better said, its duties and obligations to institutionally control the government.

Numerous objections could be raised in relation to this case.

Firstly, the right to propose in this case was self-attributed by a Committee member of Positive party, who became a member of the Committee in July 2013 and rarely participated in board meetings. It would be more natural that Velizar Kaluđerović attended the Committee meeting, who is senior Jonica’s colleague and the senior member of the Committee (since November 2012). If Kaluđerović thought that he was not the one who should be the candidate for this position on behalf of SNP, he might have suggested Jonica. That would at least formalize the impression that the SNP, and not DPS and Positive party, is standing behind her appointment.

Secondly, any proposal for a public office function should be done promptly and publicly. On the contrary, the proposal to appoint Jonica was given on the day of the meeting with the sentence explanation. Therefore, the impression that remains is that this appointment has been previously agreed upon between Jonica, Pajović and DPS. That is not contrary to regulations, but it undermines the legitimacy of the opposition representative.

Thirdly, MP Jonica, who was appointed as a member of the Committee less than a year ago (December 23rd 2013), had less “rights” to the position of Deputy President in this Board. Also, she still hasn’t filed a formal initiative to hold control and consultative hearing, nor control visits to institutions.

Fourthly, the fact that one MP from DPS, Obrad Mišo Stanišić, who is known as someone who often contributes to the opposition cause of action, does not want to participate in this scenario of appointment, talks itself about the type of scenario.

Last, but not the least important – for some reason, the SNP did not want to give the arguments for its attitude in the inter-opposition debate held about the division of the seats among them. The debate about the best proportion of participation of opposition parties in the distribution of seats in the Parliament could be focused and taken in favor of the SNP. Let’s not forget that member of DF serves as the Vice-President of the Assembly and President of the two committees – Committee for European Integration and Anti-corruption Committee, as well as the Commission for Monitoring and Control of the Privatization Procedure, while the SNP has the Presidency of the Committee on Economics, Finance and Budget.

To summarize, something is rotten in the idea that the party who forms a majority in the Government elects the representatives of the opposition. It would be rotten anywhere, but especially in this Committee, which controls the security and defense sector, and in a country where the main battle between government and the opposition is, allegedly, on whether or not there is actual political will to deal with corruption and organized crime.

Unfortunately, this decision brought by the majority and, partly, the minority of the opposition members of the Committee, has achieved the goal of further marginalization of the opposition in the Committee.

However, there is some justice in what happened to Medojević, who had the intention of become the deputy of Mevludin Nuhodžić, member of the Presidency of the DPS. Medojević intended to become a member of the Bureau for Operational Coordination of the Work of Security Services, together with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister for Political System, Foreign and Interior Policy, Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration and Director of the National Security Agency.

In other words, Medojević intended to sit at the same table with Milo Đukanovic and Duško Marković, just to mention two of them, while he was repeatedly claimed that they are at top of the pyramid of organized crime, that they are the Chief and Deputy Chief of the mafia in Montenegro. Medojević has intended to coordinate security services with them, while arguing that aforementioned security services are branches of the mafia and should be abolished.

On the posed question – how would that work – the conflict between conventional and non-conventional opposition strategies, i.e. multitasking both the constructive role “fellow member of the Bureau” and the role of the leader of protest fighting to dismiss the mafia regime, ie. other fellow members of the Bureau – unfortunately, we will not get an empirical answer.

For the audience less familiar with the context and atmosphere in the Bureau, it is worth mentioning that during the last few years the opposition members have been taking care of harmonious relations, good atmosphere and understanding, more than they articulated their differences strongly, using all the control mechanisms.

The impression is that they did not see many anomalies and deficiencies in its own prudential supervision of security and defense sector, numerous delays, a low level of Committee activity and poor results. Opposition members have failed to fully utilize mechanisms that gave the right to opposition to seek and obtain more of the Committee.

Instead of achieving fair agreement among opposition parties about their own participation in the exercise of parliamentary functions, we got a new evidence of mistrust among the opposition and public mistrust in political parties and Parliament.

We will advocate that the Law on the Parliament stipulates clear procedures in order to avoid a case similar to this, when the issue has not yet been solved by Code of Ethics.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board

text has been originally published in the ,,Forum” section of the daily Vijesti

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