In an extraordinary session, the parliament voted 104 to 7 in favor of the removal of the president. Three abstained. Final approval rests with the Albanian Constitutional Court within three months.
A subsequent report to a parliamentary inquiry concluded that Meta had violated the constitution with his biased approach against the ruling Socialists during the April 25 parliamentary election campaign. The report said that Meta violated 16 articles and also incited violence.
“Ilir Meta has betrayed the mission of the president of … Albania,” Prime Minister Edi said. Branch he said in his speech before the vote. “Ilir Meta has humiliated the constitution.”
Meta has denounced the investigation and the impeachment attempt, arguing that they are illegal.
Its spokesperson, Tedi Blushi, described the decision as “unconstitutional and ridiculous”, calling it “the parliamentary garbage dump”.
Blushi wrote on his Facebook page that Meta “is more motivated than ever to protect the sovereignty and integrity of Albania.”
Meta’s mandate typically ends in July 2022.
During the parliamentary debate, Meta continued with her daily schedule, presenting a medal to a folk music ensemble in the courtyard of her office.
At the end of April, 49 ruling Socialist legislators applied to be part of the inquiry committee. They accuse Meta, a former socialist prime minister who left the party many years ago, of inciting instability and violence in the Balkan nation and siding with the political opposition before the elections. They say that Meta should be charged for failing to fulfill his constitutional duty to guarantee national unity.
The ruling Socialist Party ended up winning an overwhelming majority of 74 of the 140 parliament seats in the April 25 elections, winning its third four-year term.
“The acts, behavior and approach of the President of the Republic … go against his role and constitutional position,” says the report. He added that Meta must be “removed from office as President of the Republic for a serious violation (of the constitution).”
Albania’s presidency is largely ceremonial, but it does have 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 socialist government.
Since assuming the presidency in 2017 with the support of the ruling socialists, Meta has opposed his agenda, blocking ministerial nominations and vetoing the legislation.
Meta has accused Rama of leading a “kleptocratic regime” and concentrating all legislative, administrative and judicial powers in his hands.
Meta argues that the outgoing assembly is in a post-electoral transition period and, therefore, is not eligible to carry out such investigative activities. The parliament elected in April does not formally sit until September.
Unprecedented in Albania, impeachment of a head of state is also rare in Europe.
In 2004, the Lithuanian parliament and its high court indicted President Rolandas Paskas and removed him from office. In 1993, the then president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, was fired, but kept his post after an armed confrontation.
In the cases of two other heads of state, the process was initiated but not concluded: Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country, while Czech President Vaclav Klaus’s term had expired when he was indicted.