Albanian parliament dismisses president over vote commentary
TIRANA – The Albanian Parliament on Wednesday indicted President Ilir Meta for violating the constitution and removed him from office.
In an extraordinary session, parliament voted 104-7 to discharge the president. Three abstained. Final approval goes to the Albanian Constitutional Court within three months.
A report following a parliamentary inquiry concluded that Meta violated the constitution with its one-sided approach against ruling Socialists during the April 25 parliamentary election campaign. The report says Meta violated 16 articles and also incited violence.
“Ilir Meta betrayed the mission of the president of (…) Albania,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said in his speech before the vote. “Ilir Meta humiliated the constitution.”
Meta denounced the investigation and the impeachment attempt, arguing that they are illegal.
Its spokesperson, Tedi Blushi, called the decision “unconstitutional and ridiculous”, for what he called a “parliamentary dumping ground”.
Blushi wrote on his Facebook page that Meta “is more motivated than ever to protect the sovereignty and integrity of Albania”.
Meta’s term normally ends in July 2022.
During the parliamentary debate, Meta continued her daily program by presenting a medal to a folk music ensemble in her office courtyard.
At the end of April, 49 socialist legislators in power called for the creation of a commission of inquiry. They accuse Meta, a former socialist prime minister who left the party many years ago, of instigating instability and violence in the Balkan nation and of siding with the political opposition before the elections. They say Meta should be impeached for failing in its constitutional duty to ensure national unity.
The ruling Socialist Party ended up winning a landslide victory of 74 of Parliament’s 140 seats in the April 25 election, winning its third four-year term.
“The acts, behavior and approach of the President of the Republic (…) go against his constitutional role and position,” said the report. He added that Meta should be “removed from his post as President of the Republic for serious violation (of the constitution)”.
The Albanian presidency is largely ceremonial but exercises some authority over the judiciary and the armed forces. The role is also generally seen as apolitical, but Meta has regularly clashed with Rama’s socialist government.
Since taking office as president in 2017 with the backing of the ruling Socialists, Meta has opposed their platform, blocking cabinet appointments and vetoing legislation.
Meta accused Rama of leading a “kleptocratic regime” and of concentrating all legislative, administrative and judicial powers in his hands.
Meta argues that the outgoing assembly is in a post-election transition period and is therefore not empowered to conduct such investigative activities. The parliament elected in April does not officially sit until September.
Unheard of in Albania, the removal of a head of state is also rare in Europe.
In 2004, the Lithuanian parliament and its highest court removed President Rolandas Paskas and removed him from office. In 1993, Boris Yeltsin, then President of Russia, was removed from office but retained his post after an armed standoff.
In the case of two other heads of state, the process was launched but failed: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country, while the term of Czech President Vaclav Klaus expired when he was deposed .
Follow Llazar Semini on https://twitter.com/lsemini
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