Albanian President Ilir Meta speaks during a news conference in capital Tirana, Albania on Monday June 10, 2019. Albania's president says he has canceled upcoming municipal elections fearing a “social tension.” Ilir Meta said holding elections without the opposition would be “undemocratic” and would “freeze the country’s integration.” (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

Albania: President's move to cancel vote is unconstitutional

June 13, 2019 - 11:14 am

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's parliament voted Thursday to pass a resolution criticizing President Ilir Meta's attempt to cancel municipal elections as unconstitutional.

Meta said Saturday he was cancelling the June 30 local elections, saying he feared the balloting would be "undemocratic" without participation of the political opposition.

The resolution called that move "absolutely invalid, overcrossing the constitutional and legal competencies of the president."

It was passed with 100 votes for and seven against in a test for the governing Socialist Party, which has a comfortable majority in parliament but not enough seats to oust Meta.

The Socialists did not say whether they will continue to seek ousting Meta, as they did earlier this week after Meta issued his decree on cancelling the elections.

Prime Minister Edi Rama insists the municipal elections will go ahead as scheduled to prevent political "blackmail" from being used to force the calling of early parliamentary elections.

Addressing lawmakers Thursday, Rama said he considered Meta's act "brutal, transgressive, irresponsible and intolerable."

"Ilir Meta has lost his right to stay at the president's office," he said, adding: "There is nothing to shake us from holding the June 30 election."

Meta is a former Socialist leader who became president about two years ago with the governing party's help. At the time of his election, he led a small party called the Socialist Movement for Integration, which is now in political opposition and led by his wife.

Albania's center-right opposition has led continuous protests since mid-February, accusing the government of links to organized crime and demanding a new general election.

The governing Socialists have denied the allegations.

Rama said the protests have hurt the country's prospects of launching full membership negotiations with the European Union.


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