President Ilir Meta has accused Prime Minister Edi Rama of attempting an institutional coup d’etat via a number of manoeuvres undertaken over the past two years.
Meta published a list of actions and events that, according to him, demonstrates that the government is trying to concentrate power in the hands of Prime Minister Rama which constitutes an anti-democratic coup d’etat.
Local and parliamentary electoral manipulation
In May 2019 several wiretap recordings proving voter manipulation during the Dibra local elections of 2016 and the Durrës parliamentary elections of 2017 were leaked from a Prosecution Office dossier and were made public by German newspaper Bild.
The recordings reveal several political actors, including former Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Damian Gjiknuri (now the Chair of the Electoral Reform Committee) and former Durrës mayor Vangjush Dako, as well as other Socialist officials conversing with criminal actors and their minions regarding vote-buying, voter coercion, and similar electoral doctoring schemes.
The Dibra recording also implicates Prime Minister Edi Rama who can be heard speaking as if he may be aware of the election manipulation scheme.
In the Durrës recording, one can hear convicted criminals determining who will be the Socialist candidate for MP, buying votes, and pressuring voters.
Violation of the presidential degree changing the 2019 local elections date
On June 10, 2019, the 4 members of the Central Election Commission (KQZ) of Albania appointed by the governing Socialist Party refused to implement President Meta’s decree to cancel the June 30 local elections. By doing so, KQZ took on the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, that had been frozen for months and remains nonfunctional.
Consequently, KQZ also refused to acknowledge the presidential decree changing the election date and held elections on June 30, 2019.
Single-party local elections
Opposition parties boycotted the June 30 2019, local elections. In 31 municipalities, the Socialist Party candidate stood alone in the ballot. In 21 municipalities, Democratic Conviction (BD) candidates also ran, despite the fact that they were included in the elections in contradiction with legal provisions, before registering as a political party.
Single-party, incomplete, parliament
After the Democratic MPs renounced their parliament seats in February 2019, the vacant parliament seats were filled with candidates from the bottom of the opposition’s lists. However, this process ended without filling every vacancy.
Thus, on June 17, 2019, the Central Election Commission (KQZ) informed President Meta that the parliament constituted only 122 MPs, out of the legally mandated 140.
Usurpation of the Justice Appointments Council (KED) by Chairman Ardian Dvorani
Ardian Dvorani is a member and Chairman of the Justice Appointments Council (KED) because he is the only acting member of the High Court.
However, Dvorani’s membership stands in contradiction with legal provisions against the appointment of prosecutors of the Communist regime to judicial institutions.
Additionally, Dvorani’s 9-year term has ended more than 6 years ago, though he has refused to give up his position, relying on obscure legal loopholes to remain on the High Court, even though the Constitutional Court has determined his term has ended.
In 2020, he was appointed Chairman of the Justice Appointments Council (KED), once again in contradiction with the law, as he was being investigated at the time, following charges filed by President Meta.
As head of the KED in 2019, Dvorani took a number of decisions that could constitute legal and constitutional infractions.
Police usurpation of Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office (SPAK) functions
The “anti-corruption” laws passed by the government on January 31 create a special police and intelligence unit under the de facto control of Prime Minister Rama. Additionally, the structures and procedures provisioned by the new law would double and infringe upon the competencies of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office (SPAK) and National Bureau of Investigations (BKH).
Freedom of expression violations
The controversial “anti-defamation package” passed by the parliament in December 2019 foresees registration of all “electronic publication service providers” (OShPE), supervision of their content, and fines or closure to be imposed on them if their content is determined to be “slander” by the Albanian Media Authority (AMA) and the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP), both institutions under the authority of the Prime Minister.
President Meta refused to decree the law in January, sending it back to parliament with the reasoning that it would infringe on freedom of the press, especially by granting more “coercive power“ to the regulatory institutions, AMA and AKEP.
On February 3, 2020, however, the changes to the “law on electronic communications” were published in the government’s Official Bulletin, being passed, thus, unconstitutionally, without a presidential decree.
Unconstitutional change of judges’ oaths
Last week, changes to the Law on Constitutional Court were passed by the Socialist majority. They would make it unnecessary for court members to swear in before the President of the Republic.
The proposed changes contradict Constitutional provisions that Constitutional judges must take an oath before the President. Such a provision can only be modified via a constitutional amendment. These changes also violate common-law principles, by constituting a (non-amnesty) ex post facto, or retroactive, law.