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Albania parliament impeaches president for violating constitution

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Ilir Meta, who held the largely ceremonial role, has regularly clashed with Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist government.

Video Transcript

JOHN PSAROPOULOS: Governing socialist party deputies took the stand to denounce president Ilir Meta. They say he abandoned his obligation to remain politically neutral and supported the opposition in the country's general election in April.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

JOHN PSAROPOULOS: They moved to have him impeached and won handily. 104 deputies in the 140 seat chamber voted in favor, 30 of them from the opposition. The Constitutional Court must now decide Meta's fate in what is an unprecedented political situation, even for Albania's highly personal politics. Only seven deputies voted against impeachment, one of them, Gitanjali says that's because many opposition MPs are loyal to Prime Minister Edi Rama.

GJETAN GJETANI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The presidency is the only institution prime minister Rama doesn't control. He wants to get Meta out of the way before September because he's afraid Meta won't swear in the new parliament and cabinet. Meta has a lot of evidence that the elections were not properly carried out.

JOHN PSAROPOULOS: Meta has said nothing in public, and dismissed the impeachment as a joke in private. He spent the day hosting folk dances at the presidential office. But he and Rama have clashed over elections before.

Prime Minister Rama's suspicions go back to 2019, when President Meta suggested changing the date of local elections that were due to be held across the country so that the opposition Democratic Party could also participate after initially boycotting the process. Rama accused Meta of siding with the Democrats, held a session of parliament to censure him, and vowed to get rid of him.

Rama says the impeachment is principled, and has nothing to do with personal disagreements.

EDI RAMA: You know, it's not at all a problem between me and him. It's a big problem between him and the country, and the role, and the duty. And you know, the very, very important guarantee that the president is in a parliamentary Republic.

JOHN PSAROPOULOS: Meta founded the opposition party Movement for Socialist Integration, or LSI, which his wife now leads. So many believe he is not out of the political game. If the Constitutional Court removes Meta, parliament must elect a new president. If it doesn't, the country will have to live with the chief executive and a head of state who are at war. John Psaropoulos, Al Jazeera, Tirana.