Albania’s Socialists seek to impeach nation’s president

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Ilir Meta

FILE – In this Wednesday, April 21, 2021 file photo, Albanian President Ilir Meta speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Tirana, Albania. Albania’s president has accused the U.S. ambassador of intervening in the small European country’s internal affairs by supporting its prime minister in an upcoming parliamentary election. Meta spoke harshly about Ambassador Yuri Kim during a television talk show on Friday, April 23, 2021. While the show was airing, Kim sent a text message to Meta and also tweeted about Sunday’s election. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina, File)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Lawmakers from Albania’s governing left-wing Socialist Party have started an impeachment process against the country’s president, who they accuse of violating the constitution during the last election, one of their leaders said Monday.

Taulant Balla, the Socialist parliamentary group leader, said 50 Socialist lawmakers have asked parliament to launch an investigation after determining that President Ilir Meta “before and during the electoral campaign committed actions that run counter to the country’s constitution.”

During the April 25 electoral campaign, Meta accused the left-wing government of Prime Minister Edi Rama of running a “kleptocratic regime” and bungling its pandemic response. Meta accused Rama of concentrating all legislative, administrative and judiciary powers in his hands.

The Socialists achieved a landslide victory in the vote, securing 74 seats in the 140-seat parliament, enough to form a Cabinet on their own.

Balla said the existing parliament has enough time until Sept. 9, when its mandate is over, to form “an investigative commission and end (the impeachment process).”

But it wasn’t clear whether the Socialists would be able to secure a two-thirds majority for an impeachment request to pass. After parliament’s vote, the final verdict comes from the Constitutional Court.

Meta’s press office didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment but he wrote on his Facebook page “Don’t deal with ‘stun grenades’ but with the investigation of the electoral crimes!”

The opposition too has claimed the vote was manipulated.

Meta’s post is largely ceremonial, with some powers over the judiciary and the armed forces. His role is also generally understood to be apolitical but he has often clashed with Rama’s government.

Meta started his political career with the Socialist Party, but later left it to form the smaller left-wing Socialist Movement for Integration, or LSI. In 2017, when he was elected president for a five-year term, he left the LSI leadership to his wife.

Meta has said he will rejoin the LSI next year when his presidential term is over.

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Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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