Albania – Political tensions at all time high between President and PM ahead of Council of National Security

basha, meta, nishani, rama, tirana, albania, security
Opposition Leader Lulzim Basha, Speaker Ilir Meta, President Bujar Nishani and PM Edi Rama during a Council of National Security meetings in Albania.

Tirana, Albania (Tirana Echo) – Relations degrade between the office of the President and Prime Minister in Albania after PM Edi Rama has declined to participate at the Council of National Security meeting convened by the President of Albania Bujar Nishani.

President Nishani has refused to accept Deputy PM Niko Peleshi to replace PM Rama at the high level meeting, arguing that the presence of the Prime Minister is deemed as highly important.

The President decided to gather the Council of National Security immediately after the proposal of Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta, who asked the President to use the Council to look into the circumstances surrounding the lack of willingness to arrest renowned drug baron Klemend Balili, who is allegedly still running free in Albania.

In a letter sent to the Council of Ministers today, President Nishani argues in response to PM’s request to be replaced by the Deputy PM that “based on Article 168 of the Constitution… has decided the refusal of such authorization, judging that no objective reason has been provided for the replacement”.

The failure to arrest Balili prompted several high level politicians, most notably former Minister of Justice Ylli Manjani to accuse the Albanian Police of failing to arrest Balili due to their connections in the drug networks. Manjani was sacked earlier this week by Prime Minister Rama due to their irreconcilable disagreements and after he accused the Government of collaborating with drug barons ahead of upcoming June general elections.

The Balili case has strained relations between governing coalition partners SP and SMI prompting analysts to speculate over the fate of the current center-left coalition between socialist PM Edi Rama and Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta, chair of SMI.

After several SMI exponents accused the State Police and specifically Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri of refusing to follow through on Interpol’s warrant to arrest Balili, Speaker of Parliament Meta asked President Nishani to convene the Council on National Security which gathers tomorrow.

PM Rama will not participate due to a visit in neighboring Kosovo which President Nishani has today refused to accept his replacement by Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi.

The row comes as tensions between coalition allies SP and SMI are at a all time high and as Albania prepares to start the vetting process of the unprecedented justice reform package approves last July in Parliament.

Albania will hold general elections on June 18th this year and at the same time this parliament should elect the new President of the country. The country has not been confronted with both general and presidential elections in its democratic history since 1991.

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