Albania's parliament to vote on ousting president

Albanian President Ilir Meta speaks during a news conference in capital Tirana, Albania on Monday June 10, 2019. Albania's president says he has cance

Albanian President Ilir Meta speaks during a news conference in capital Tirana, Albania on Monday June 10, 2019. Albania's president says he has cance

A demonstrator tries to kick away a tear gas canister during an anti-government protest in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, June 8, 2019. Thousands of Alban

A demonstrator tries to kick away a tear gas canister during an anti-government protest in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, June 8, 2019. Thousands of Alban

A demonstrator walks past Albanian policemen in riot gears during an anti-government protest in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, June 8, 2019. Thousands of

A demonstrator walks past Albanian policemen in riot gears during an anti-government protest in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, June 8, 2019. Thousands of

Albanian President Ilir Meta speaks during a news conference in capital Tirana, Albania on Monday June 10, 2019. Albania's president says he has cance

Albanian President Ilir Meta speaks during a news conference in capital Tirana, Albania on Monday June 10, 2019. Albania's president says he has cance

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's parliament debated a no-confidence motion Thursday against President Ilir Meta after he canceled upcoming municipal elections. A vote is expected later in the day.

Meta canceled the June 30 local elections on Saturday, saying he feared the balloting would be "undemocratic" without participation of the political opposition, which planned to boycott the elections and threatened to prevent voting from taking place.

The governing Socialists need 94 votes to oust Meta but don't control that many in the 140-seat parliament.

Even if the party gets enough to pass the motion, the Albanian Constitutional Court makes the final decision. The court has been dysfunctional for about a year after most of its judges were fired.

Prime Minister Edi Rama insists the municipal elections will go ahead as scheduled to prevent political "blackmail" from being used to force the calling of early parliamentary elections.

Addressing lawmakers Thursday, Rama said he considered Meta's act "brutal, transgressive, irresponsible and intolerable."

"Ilir Meta has lost his right to stay at the president's office," he said, adding: "There is nothing to shake us from holding the June 30 election."

Meta is a former Socialist leader who became president about two years ago with the governing party's help. At the time of his election, he led a small party called the Socialist Movement for Integration, which is now in political opposition and led by his wife.

Albania's center-right opposition has led continuous protests since mid-February, accusing the government of links to organized crime and demanding a new general election.

The governing Socialists have denied the allegations.

Rama said the protests have hurt the country's prospects of launching full membership negotiations with the European Union.

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