Albania's lawmakers impeach President Meta
Albanian lawmakers voted on Wednesday in an extraordinary plenary session in Parliament to impeach President Ilir Meta, who has been accused of violating the country's constitution.
The vote was 104 in favor, seven against and three abstentions.
Forty-nine Socialist lawmakers set up a committee in late April to investigate Meta's activities during the April 25 general elections. According to the committee, Meta had "seriously violated the constitution" with his statements and actions.
On Wednesday, the head of the investigative committee, Socialist deputy Alket Islami, presented to lawmakers a 96-page final report drafted by the committee, saying that "the president violated 17 articles of the constitution" and that "these violations are considered by the committee as grave."
President Meta has been accused of inciting hatred and violence in the country, putting people's lives at risk, interfering with and intimidating public institutions, damaging the country's image, reputation and relations with its strategic partners, as well as openly supporting opposition parties ahead of the April 25 general elections.
According to the report, Meta had also failed in his constitutional duty to guarantee national unity and should be removed from office a year earlier than his term ends.
Addressing the lawmakers, Prime Minister Edi Rama said that Meta "has betrayed the president's mission, has humiliated the constitution and embarrassed Albania and Albanians in relation to the international representatives in Albania."
Meta refused twice to answer the committee members' questions, arguing that the outgoing parliament cannot organize this kind of investigation and calling the investigation "anti-constitutional and illegal."
Following a 180-minute discussion, lawmakers voted first to approve the impeachment report.
Parliament Speaker Gramoz Ruci then asked the deputies to confirm the impeachment in an anonymous vote.
The Constitutional Court of Albania now has three months to review the case and give its final approval.
Reacting to the lawmakers' vote on Wednesday, Meta's spokesperson Tedi Blushi called it "anti-constitutional and ridiculous."
The position and role of the president in Albania is mainly symbolic. The president represents the unity of the Albanian people and is also the supreme commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces.
Meta took office in July 2017 and since then his relations with the ruling Socialists and Prime Minister Rama have been tense. He has openly opposed the decisions taken by the ruling party by frequently returning the laws adopted by Parliament.