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Parliament elects two Constitutional Court members amid debate

TIRANA, Nov. 11 – The Albanian parliament voted today for two of the three members of the Constitutional Court the parliament itself is responsible for electing. 

Elsa Toska and Fiona Papajorgji were elected by a majority of 105 votes. 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 at 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, even today in the hall, the Socialist representatives 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.

Elsa Toska and Fiona Papajorgji were elected by the parliament with 105 votes. 

The parliament’s decision seemed strained, given that it was unable to choose between the three candidates, but only had one option in both cases. 

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 Assembly. This means that for 1 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.

It remains to be seen whether or not Vorpsi will begin with the job, as she will have to take the oath before the president. 

Meta announced today that he will speak in the coming days, and through his spokesman said shortly after the vote in parliament that there is “nothing new from the Ramaform front”, the qualification by which the president defines the justice reform as captured by Rama. 

 

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