Opposition supporters clash with police in Albania

Updated February 17, 2019

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Tirana: Opposition supporters wave the national flag as police throw tear gas during a protest in front of government building, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama on Saturday.—AFP
Tirana: Opposition supporters wave the national flag as police throw tear gas during a protest in front of government building, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama on Saturday.—AFP

TIRANA: Thousands of Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police on Saturday at an anti-government rally protesting what they claim is a corrupt and inefficient cabinet. The protesters demanded that the government resign and an early election be held.

Protesters throwing flares and other objects broke through police ranks as they tried to enter the office of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama.

They destroyed the main door of the government building in Tirana, the capital, and broke an artwork on the side of the building but could not get inside.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters. The health ministry said 15 people were injured, including seven policemen.

One poster read “This is the end of the thieves,” while another showed a picture of Rama’s face made to resemble that of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Protesters shouted “Rama go!” and blew vuvuzelas.

The rally was organised by the centre-right Democratic Party. In an interview before the rally, Democrats leader Lulzim Basha said his supporters want the government to resign, a transitional cabinet to be put into place and an early election held.

“(We need) to restore democracy through a parliament that is elected by the will of people and not the money or the threats of criminals,” he said.

After five hours, Basha ended the rally pledging that the “popular uprising will continue until the overturn of this system.” He called for another protest on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2019