Albania's new president is sworn in, vows to back democracy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's new president has been sworn in during an extraordinary session of parliament.

President Ilir Meta on Monday formally took the post after swearing that he would abide by the Constitution and the laws, respect citizens' rights and freedoms, defend the independence of Albania and serve the interests of the Albanian people.

"For the new president, Albania and democracy will always be the first," he said after taking the oath.

Meta, 48, has been parliament speaker and leader of the junior governing party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, or LSI. Elected by the parliament in April, he gave up the party post to his wife, Monika Kryemadhi.

Albania's president occupies a largely ceremonial role and is limited to two five-year terms.

Meta, an economist, started his political life in 1990 as part of a student protest movement that toppled the country's communist regime. He became the country's youngest prime minister at 30 and also has served as Albania's foreign, integration and economy, trade and energy ministers.

Meta founded the LSI party in 2004. In a few years, he turned it into a kingmaker in the volatile country's politics.

The LSI joined the center-right coalition that ruled Albania from 2009 to 2013. Then it was part of the governing alliance with the Socialists from 2013 to 2017. After the June election, the party is in the opposition.

Meta pledged to promote "the spirit of consensus and dialogue."

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