Albanian parliament votes against president’s impeachment

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's parliament voted on Monday against the impeachment of President Ilir Meta over his unsuccessful attempt to cancel local elections last year.

Lawmakers voted 78-17, with 8 abstentions, in favor of the recommendations of an inter-party commission which found that Meta should not be impeached — but which also suggested the drafting of new legislation on presidential powers.

A year ago the governing Socialists set up the commission to investigate the president — who comes from a small left-wing opposition party — for his bid to cancel the municipal elections, saying that exceeded his constitutional powers.

Meta had tried to stop the elections, voicing fears the process would be “undemocratic” as center-right opposition parties had said they would boycott it due to alleged links between the governing Socialists and organized crime groups. He had also voiced fears of violent civil unrest if the municipal elections went ahead.

He was overruled by electoral authorities and the Socialists, who dominate parliament, won in most municipalities.

Prime Minister Edi Rama accused Meta of engaging in “acts of vandalism” against Albania's constitution.

To impeach Meta, an enhanced majority of 94 votes in the 140-seat parliament would have been required.