Albania’s Constitutional Court said on Friday it would consider the legality of parliament’s decision to impeach the country’s nominal president over alleged constitutional violations. If the court upheld the decision, then President Ilir Meta would be removed from office a year earlier.

The court said it would hold a public hearing on the matter, but did not specify a date. Albania’s presidency is largely ceremonial but has some authority over the judiciary and the armed forces. The role is also generally understood to be apolitical, but Meta has regularly clashed with Prime Minister Edi Rama’s socialist government.

In June, Parliament voted 104 to 7 to impeach Meta, after a commission of inquiry began the process of impeachment for the first time ever for an Albanian president following a request from the ruling Socialist lawmakers. The parliamentary inquiry released a 98-page report concluding that Meta had violated 16 articles of the constitution ahead of Albania’s April 25 general elections and should be removed from office a year before July 2022, when his term naturally ends.

Meta claimed that the outgoing parliament was in a transitional period after the elections and therefore ineligible to conduct the investigation. The Socialists accused Meta, a former Socialist prime minister who left the party many years ago, of not ensuring national unity, inciting instability and violence, and of siding openly with the political opposition ahead of the April elections.

The Socialists won their third consecutive four-year term with 74 of the 140 seats in Parliament. Since taking office in 2017 with the support of the Socialists, Meta has opposed their agenda, often blocking ministerial nominations and vetoing legislation.

The President accused Prime Minister Rama of running a kleptocratic system and concentrating all legislative, administrative and judicial powers in his hands. (AFP).

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