The Constitutional Court of Albania has scheduled the review of President Ilir Meta’s dismissal by parliament for January 18, 2022.
An approval of the parliament’s decision by at least 5 of the 7 members of the Constitutional Court would see President Meta leave office 6 months before the end of his 5-year term.
The previous parliament dismissed Meta in June 2021 for “serious violations” of the constitution during the April electoral campaign. The move by the ruling Socialist Party was supported by opposition MPs who had refused their party’s decision to renounce their mandates two years ago.
This was the first time in Albania’s history that a president had been dismissed by parliament.
The Constitutional Court will have the last say on the issue by approving or rejecting the dismissal and the evidence.
During the April electoral campaign, Meta accused the government of being involved in preparations to rig the elections and of colluding with criminal gangs to buy votes, and called on people to defend their vote.
The Socialist majority launched procedures to dismiss him immediately after they won a third term in the April 25 elections, following the promise made a few days before by Prime Minister Edi Rama, and after the president clashed with the US ambassador on live television.
They hastened to finalize the dismissal before the summer vocations and before the end of the previous parliamentary season, in order to avoid a possible vote against by the new opposition that was going to enter the parliament in September.
The majority demanded to remove Meta on grounds of “serious violations” of the constitution, which is one of the two possible conditions to dismiss the Albanian president – the other one being “committing a serious crime.” They alleged that he had violated the unity of the people by attacking the Socialist Party and the government during the electoral campaign, incited violence, and attacked foreign diplomats.
This was the second attempt by the Socialists to dismiss President Meta. Previously, they dropped another inquiry against him in 2019 over the appointments of members to the Constitutional Court and the decree annulling the June 30 elections. After one year of inquiry and following a Venice Commission report suggesting that Meta had not committed any serious violation of the Constitution, the Socialists gave up.
In his speech in parliament ahead of the vote in June, Rama attacked Meta for having allegedly “betrayed his mission”, “humiliated the Constitution”, “destroyed the unity of the people”, “violated the separation of powers”, and “disgraced the Albanian people’s special relation with the US”.
The Constitutional Court was non-functional for nearly two years due to the dismissals of judges by the justice reform. It became newly functional this year, when it reached a quorum of 5 of its 9 members, with 2 more added later.