Albania's ex-president takes over his old political party

Newly appointed Albanian President Bajram Begaj, left, stands next to former President Ilir Meta, during an inauguration ceremony at the Presidential palace, in Tirana, Sunday, July 24, 2022. Albania's new president sworn in on Sunday calling on the country's political parties to cooperate and consolidate the rule of law. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda) (Franc Zhurda, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TIRANA – Albania’s former President Ilir Meta on Monday took over the leadership of his old political party and pledged to fight government corruption through referendums.

Meta, 53, who was replaced Sunday by new President Bajram Begaj, was elected Monday as leader of a committee that would re-organize his old left-wing Socialist Movement for Integration party, or LSI, into a re-named the Party of Freedom.

After he was elected as the country's president in 2017, Meta left the party’s post, which was taken over by his wife, Monika Kryemadhi. She resigned five years later.

Following Meta's passionate speech against the Socialist-led government of Prime Minister Edi Rama, the LSI convention decided to change the party's name and reorganize.

The former president started his political career with the left-wing Socialist Party, but in 2004 left it to form the smaller LSI. During his presidency, Meta often clashed with the Socialists government, blocking the nominations of ministers and vetoing legislation.