ontario news watch

Albanian president calls impeachment probe committee illegal

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s president refused Tuesday to appear before a parliamentary committee that is investigating whether he violated the country’s constitution and should be impeached.

President Ilir Meta sent a 28-page long document to parliament in which he said the investigative committee lacked legitimacy and that he would continue performing his duties while “ignoring any request coming from an anti-constitutional and illegal institution.”

Albanian lawmakers formed the committee this month to decide whether to impeach Meta. More than four dozen lawmakers from the governing Socialist Party have claimed that Meta failed in his constitutional duty to guarantee national unity by siding with the opposition before an April 25 parliamentary election.

Meta argues that because the parliament elected last month has not convened, the outgoing assembly is in a post-election transition period and therefore ineligible to conduct such investigation activities.

“Initiatives in such forms are unacceptable for democratic societies, considered as a revenge, why not an institutional putsch or coup d’état to seize the constitutional institutions?” wrote Meta, who is in Slovenia following a regional summit.

The Socialists won 74 of parliament’s 140 seats in the election, allowing them to form a Cabinet on their own. Yet impeaching Meta requires a two-thirds majority, which the Socialists do not have, and approval from Albania’s Constitutional Court.

During the election campaign, Meta accused Prime Minister Edi Rama of running a “kleptocratic regime” and concentrating all legislative, administrative and judiciary powers in his hands.

Albania’s presidency is largely ceremonial but carries some authority over the judiciary and the armed forces. The role is also generally understood to be apolitical, but Meta has regularly clashed with Rama’s government. His presidential term is scheduled to end in July 2022.

Llazar Semini, The Associated Press