Tirana, Albania | 05 Nov 2018 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s institutional crisis has deepened further after heightened rhetorical clashes between Prime Minister Edi Rama and President Ilir Meta, who refused to decree the government’s proposal for interior minister, reach a new level of open conflict.
Following President Meta’s refusal to decree Sandër Lleshi as Interior Minister without offering any constitutional argumentation, Edi Rama gathered his socialist parliamentary group confirming rumours that Lleshi will be appointed as Deputy Minister of Interior with ministerial competencies while Rama called the President’s refusal as “anti-constitutional”.
After the parliamentary group meeting Rama signalled an extraordinary session of parliament for Tuesday morning and tweeted: “Full agreement in our parliamentary group. The Parliament will approve tomorrow the decree of the President to release Fatmir Xhafaj from duty and Sandër Lleshi will assume the position of the deputy minister. But it does not end here. I will address parliament tomorrow at 10am for more information”.
Xhafaj resigned last week unexpectedly at the peak of his massive crackdown on organised crime.
Following Rama’s tweet, the President’s Spokesperson Tedi Blushi wrote: “The President of the Republic makes clear that he will not allow any challenging efforts towards the authority of the institution he represents as Head of State, General Commander of the Armed Forces and as Chairman of the National Security Council. The President of the Republic has always expressed his readiness to give transparent and responsible explanations to the Parliament of Albania for all matters the Parliament is interested to hear about. President Meta is fully convinced that the time when the Albanian state was directed by the First Secretary is over once and for all”, referring to Albania’s distant communist past when its dictator Enver Hoxha led the country as First Secretary of the Communist Party.
The old grudges between Ilir Meta and Edi Rama go back two decades since the time when Meta was prime Minister and Edi Rama Mayor of Tirana and later Chairman of the Socialist Party. The personal fiery relationship between the two has continued to date and has shaped much of Albania’s political scene since 2001.
However, the current conflict between the President and Rama’s socialist majority risks deepening Albania’s institutional crisis as the small Balkan country does not currently have a functioning Constitutional Court to interpret any moves by its top authorities.
The court is for the moment incapacitated by the slow pace of a vetting process of Albania’s judges and prosecutors as part of a wider controversial and historic reform of its highly corrupt justice system.
The saga is expected to continue Tuesday morning in Parliament as Rama is expected to address MPs and talk on Meta’s refusal to decree Sandër Lleshi as Interior Minister.
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