Albanian President to Start Talks on New Local Election Date

Albanian President Ilir Meta will start talks with political parties on setting a new date for local elections. He will meet with the leaders of the opposition this evening at 19:00.

The meeting follows the President’s announcement his decree to cancel the June 30 local elections, which was officially published two days ago.

On Monday, Meta issued a decree cancelling his previous decree to hold local elections on June 30, arguing that holding elections without the opposition’s participation could lead to a civil conflict and undermine principles of pluralism.

Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Socialist Party claimed that the President overstepped his Constitutional powers by cancelling the election date. They threatened to remove him from office through a parliamentary vote.

Additionally, PS MPs proposed a parliamentary resolution calling on institutions administering the elections to ignore the presidential decree and go ahead with the local elections on June 30.

Yesterday, the President held another press conference to further clarify his decision. Meta stated that he had made the announcement shortly before the opposition protest of June 8 in order to avoid a potential confrontation between protesters and police. He further added that:

The decision to postpone elections became necessary due to the hysterical behavior of both parties. Both sides had announced the election date as if they would face a life-and-death battle.

The President also replied to allegations made by Prime Minister Rama and his Socialist Party that he had violated the constitution:

In the Republic of Albania there is only one institution announcing the elections and this institution is the President of the Republic.
How is it that presidents have previously taken decisions to abolish their previous decrees and have postponed local and general election dates, and have not been accused of violating the constitution?
In fact, my honorable predecessors did not violate the constitution, but they made decisions for the best of the country, in respect of its [constitution’s] principles and in relation to the circumstances that compelled them [to make such] decisions.

President Meta commented on the Socialist Party’s claim that he and the opposition feared the justice reform and the special prosecution office, which has not been formed yet.

If there is someone who knows that I’m not afraid of anything, that is Mr Rama and the US Embassy, or​ at least former Ambassador Lu. The consensual adaption [in parliament] of the justice reform, and the positive recommendation [for opening accession negotiations with] the EU are the result of the struggle I’ve made to reach that consensus.

Referring to the PS statements that they would seek a parliamentary vote to dismiss the President, as well as the PS parliamentary resolution calling on electoral institution to ignore the latest presidential decree, Meta said that:

The latest initiative against the president is blackmailing the head of the state because he tried to offer a chance for the pillars on which the Republic of Albania and Constitution are built, not to shake and crumble.
I don’t see why they want to dismiss me. I have always stated my willingness to leave this post if my sacrifice would [bring] a solution. Are they interested in a solution to the crisis or dismissing the president? In case they are after the president, let’s solve the crisis and the president then leaves.

Meta urged the political parties to start talks as soon as possible to resolve the crisis and find an agreement on the new election date:

The President of the Republic assures the citizens that local elections will be held at a later time in compliance with the Constitution. The president calls on the parties to read the Constitution in earnest, to use this period for resolving the crisis and agreeing a date for holding local elections in accordance with the Constitution.