President clashes with parliament on Constitutional Court establishment

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 13, 2019 14:21

President clashes with parliament on Constitutional Court establishment

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  • On Thursday, however, Vorspi took an oath in front of a notary, disregarding the Constitutional article saying the oath should be taken in front of the president, and then sent the paperwork at the president’s office and the non-functional Constitutional Court. The judicial significance of this move is still unclear.

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TIRANA, Nov. 11 – The Albanian parliament voted on Monday two of the three members of the Constitutional Court the parliament itself is responsible for electing, clashing with President Ilir Meta who said the procedure violates the constitution. 

Elsa Toska and Fiona Papajorgji were elected by a majority of 105 votes, but the decision was criticized by the Democratic Party, which spoke of a violation of the constitution. 

Meanwhile, through separate statements, the US Embassy and the European Union Delegation in Tirana welcomed the parliament’s decision. 

Voting in parliament took place amid debate last week, when President Ilir Meta, right on the time limit for nominating the second candidate from his side, declared that he had suspended the procedure as the Constitution defines a queue in the appointment of members, and that he would have to act after the parliament in turn elected the member of one of the two vacancies announced by the institution.

But just as in recent days, on Wednesday the Socialist representatives again spoke of an attempt in their view from Meta’s side to block the establishment of the Constitutional Court. “The constitution has been set to avoid the institutional conflict between the three bodies involved in the constitutional Court’s composition, as one-third of its members are renewed every three years. But the order does not determine the turn of actions, who will act first and who will act third, because each of the three bodies exercise this constitutional power independently from one another. The only time limit the constitution and the law has is the 30-day deadline.”

For his part, Speaker Gramoz Ruci said that both the Justice Appointments Council and the Legislative Council of the parliament itself have fully adhered by the constitution with the appointment of two members from its vacancies.

Shortly after the vote, the DP spoke of a violation of the Constitution. 

“For the four vacancies in the Constitutional Court, there were no 12 candidates as required by the Constitution, but only four valid candidates for selection. These are the same names for both the president and the parliament. This means that for one seat in the Constitutional Court, there was only one candidate, and not three as required by the Constitution, by defining the members in advance and making the vote fictitious. This is the first violation of the Constitution,” stated the PD Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi, later supporting the reasoning made by Meta on this issue.

For their part, the US Embassy and the European Union Delegation in Tirana welcomed the parliament’s decision. 

“Today’s vote leads Albania forward in the reestablishment of the Constitutional Court, a vital body for accountability and democratic balance. The United States remains committed to supporting the establishment of an independent and fair judicial system in Albania.” 

Whereas the EU Delegation stated that it welcomes this decision and expects the establishment of a functioning court as soon as possible. 

“Implementation of justice reform continues and is essential for Albania on its path to EU integration,” the statement concludes.

The situation created will continue to fuel debate. The Official Journal on Saturday issued a ruling that the candidate Arta Vorpsi, who was ranked first on the list to be elected by the president, was declared a court member, ruling that the head of state had not used his power within the 30-day deadline.

 

Chaos ensues as president elects CC member past deadline 

Wednesday afternoon’s nomination of Marsida Xhaferllari by President Ilir Meta as a member of the Constitutional Court, threw the process of reestablishing the court under the justice reform in even more chaos than before.

Meta appointed the new member later than the 30-day deadline given by the Constitutional Court Law. 

Meta defended the delay with another article of the constitution, which sets out the order of appointments of members of the Constitutional Court. 

“The first member to be replaced in the Constitutional Court is appointed by the President of the Republic, the second is elected by the Assembly and the third is appointed by the Supreme Court. This line is followed for all the appointments that will be made after this law comes into force,” Meta said. 

On the other hand, the Socialists considered Meta’s passed deadline as inability to exercise his duty and thus automatically elected the first list candidate, Arta Vorpsi. 

But Meta stated last night that the publication in the Official Journal of candidates is of no value. “Any contraband publication in the Official Journal obviously does not entail any obligation for the President of the Republic,” he stated. 

Following the president’s move, the Constitutional Court now has two members, Arta Vorpsi and Marsida Xhaferllari. Vorpsi’s name was announced in the official notebook, however she can not start the job without taking the oath with Meta.

To conclude, Meta said the majority is kidnapping the president’s constitutional court member appointment in a mafia-reminiscing way and that the head of the Commission of Justice Appointments is playing with the candidates’ lists in order to make the president violate the law.

“It should be clear the Commission on Justice Appointments is an institution which only deals with the administrative management to guarantee the constitution is respected. The constitution clearly stipulates how the Constitutional Court will be established,” Meta said. 

On Thursday, however, Vorspi took an oath in front of a notary, disregarding the Constitutional article saying the oath should be taken in front of the president, and then sent the paperwork at the president’s office and the non-functional Constitutional Court. The judicial significance of this move is still unclear. 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 13, 2019 14:21