Albanian opposition set to continue anti-government protests

Albanian opposition set to continue anti-government protests

Albania’s centre-right opposition has continued protests calling for the resignation of the government and for an early parliamentary election.

The leadership of the Democratic Party-led opposition decided to hold a small protest on Sunday against the arrest of a senior party official and called a potentially larger, national rally for Monday.

Democrats’ leader Lulzim Basha called on all Albanians to join them in Monday’s evening protest.

A protester holds stones as police block a road during clashes in Tirana (AP/Hektor Pustina)
A protester holds stones as police block a road during clashes in Tirana (AP/Hektor Pustina)

“Barbarous violence against hundreds of protesters… will get tomorrow the proportional response from the united and determined people,” Basha said, speaking in front of hundreds of supporters at the Tirana police department.

Police arrested 50 people, while 31 others were detained and later released, for acts against police and public buildings.

Saturday’s protest turned violent, with opposition supporters using Molotov cocktails and police using tear gas and water cannons. Protesters and police officers were injured.

Riot police spray tear gas at protesters (AP/Hektor Pustina)
Riot police spray tear gas at protesters (AP/Hektor Pustina)

The opposition accuses the Cabinet of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama of being corrupt and linked to organised crime, which the government denies.

Rama denounced the violence, adding that “Albania is damaged.”

The opposition has been holding national protests since mid-February and smaller ones every week across the country, complaining of the corrupt government officials and of vote stealing in parliamentary elections two years ago.

Opposition lawmakers relinquished their seats in parliament in protest, though many have now been filled by other opposition candidates. The governing Socialists have 74 seats in the 140-seat parliament.

In June, Albania expects an answer from the European Union on whether full membership negotiations will be launched, and also holds municipal elections.

- Press Association

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