Albania's lawmakers vote to impeach president

Photo: EPA President Ilir Meta flashes a victory sign as he casts his ballot at a polling station in Tirana, 25 April 2021.

Albania's parliament voted on Wednesday to sack President Ilir Meta over statements which the ruling party said advocated violence and violated the constitution, Reuters reported from Tirana. Some 104 of parliament's 140 deputies voted for Meta to be dismissed more than a year before the end of his term, the first time this has happened in Albania since the multi-party system was introduced in 1991. The Constitutional Court, whose approval is needed to formalise parliament's decision, is expected to rule within three months.

The ruling Socialist Party, which was re-elected in April, accused Meta of fomenting violence by siding with opposition parties in alleging before the parliamentary vote that it would be rigged.

One person was killed and four were injured in a gunfight between supporters of the two major parties, the Socialists and the Democrats, four days before the election.

Meta, formerly the head of the small opposition Socialist Movement for Integration, has denied any wrongdoing and accuses the Socialists of orchestrating a political vendetta. He had no immediate comment after the vote, but had previously said he would not obey it.

The role of president is largely symbolic, though it has some powers over the judiciary and the military.

PM Edi Rama, once an ally of Meta's, said it was time for him to go. "Ilir Meta has violated the vital boundary of separation between the powers in our democracy," he said before the vote. "Albania cannot put up with him anymore."

Meta entered politics in 1999, when he was elected prime minister at the age of 30.

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