TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s president on Monday sued the justice minister and two top officials for violating the constitution, the latest step he has taken against the left-wing Socialist Party government he accuses of violating the constitution and of links to organized crime.

Ilir Meta accused the three of “kidnapping, openly and in a Mafia-like way” the powers given to the president by the constitution. He said he was also asking the special prosecutor to look at the case.

Meta was referring to issue of Albania’s Constitutional Court. Six of its nine seats are vacant after a vetting process found the sitting judges could not prove that all their property had been acquired legitimately or that they had met anti-corruption and professional standards throughout their careers. Filling the seats has turned into a fight among the political parties.

The political turmoil comes as the Balkan nation of nearly 3 million people has been enacting reforms in hopes of getting a green light to launch EU membership talks.

Though the president should be a unifying factor in the country, Meta has called for a rally on March 2 against the government, a move supported by the opposition.

For months last year, the opposition held protests that often turned into violent clashes with police. It also boycotted parliament and a local vote, accusing the government of vote-rigging and of links to organized crime.


Since taking the post three years ago Meta, former leader of the Socialist Movement for Integration Party, a small left-wing grouping now in opposition, has always been a vocal opponent of the governing Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The Socialists, who dominate parliament, have launched impeachment proceedings against Meta, the first in post-communist Albania, stemming from his attempt to cancel last year’s municipal elections.

The parliament is expected to produce a report in March that will likely ask for Meta’s ouster.