New Shkodra Municipal Council Expected to Illegally Unseat Mayor Voltana Ademi

The new municipal council of Shkodra will meet today for its first session in the public Luigj Gurakuqi University. The Socialist Party has won 56 of the 61 seats in the council during the recent June 30 local elections, which were boycotted by the opposition.

The first session is held at a different location, as the municipality is still legally led by Mayor Voltana Ademi, one of the most vocal opponents of the June 30 elections, which were held after they were canceled by President Ilir Meta. Valdrin Pjetri, who won the mayoral race in Shkodra – for which he was the only candidate – recently withdrew after it was revealed that he had omitted a prior criminal conviction for drug dealing from his decriminalization form. This is a criminal offense.

Mayor Ademi argued that the first session of the municipal council was called in violation of legal deadlines:

Art. 48 of the [Local Governance Law] determines clearly that the [municipal] council holds is first meeting no later than 20 days after the announcement of the [election] results. […] On July 26 the Electoral College undertook the dissolution of all councils in all municipalities in the country. With a simple calculation, from July 26 to August 19 is more than 20 days. So the meeting of Monday August 19 is called in violation of the law.

The Albanian legislation is clear on the question whether Ademi has the right to remain in function until her successor has been elected. According to the Local Governance Law art. 61, a Deputy Mayor can only take over the function of Mayor if the latter’s mandate has ended prematurely. Furthermore, art. 60(4) states clearly that:

The exercise of the mandate of mayor starts at the moment when they swear the oath and ends when the succeeding mayor makes their oath.

In other words, Ademi’s mandate would have ended only when Pjetri would have been sworn in on August 20. In his absence, Ademi has the right to stay in office until a new mayor has been elected and sworn in. The municipal council has no role to play in this entire process.

Nevertheless, according to the agenda for the first session, the municipal council is expected to announce the validity of Pjetri’s mandate, even though he has withdrawn. According to art. 60(3) of the Local Governance Law this can only happen when he takes the oath of office, which he won’t. Announcing the validity of Pjetri’s mandate would lead to a deepening of the legal and constitutional crisis.

The Democratic Party has announced a protest in front of the Luigj Gurakuqi University.