Albania: Parliament starts procedure to oust the president

Albania's parliament has started the procedure to oust President Ilir Meta for violating the constitution with his attempt to cancel upcoming municipal elections.

Taulant Balla of the governing Socialist Party parliamentary group said Monday 55 lawmakers had made the request.

Earlier this month Meta said he was canceling June 30 local elections because he feared the balloting would be "undemocratic" without the participation of Albania's center-right opposition parties and would spark social conflict.

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

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

The Socialists deny the allegations.