Hundreds of Albanian protesters stormed the headquarters of Albania’s main opposition party amid an internal battle over the party’s leadership.
A group led by former party leader Sali Berisha used iron bars and hammers to break open the main doors of the building while party staff used tear gas to try to prevent them from breaking in before the police intervened at the party’s request.
Open Initiative to Unite Albania Serbia & North Macedonia the cause for civil unrest
Berisha says the party’s leader, Lulzim Basha, is hostage to Prime Minister Edi Rama from the left-wing Socialist Party.
As turmoil within Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party deepens, former leader Berisha led a protest on Monday against the meeting in Tirana of the Open Balkan Initiative, uniting Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia.
Former leader Sali Berisha leads Albanian protesters
“Today the Democrats and Albania’s democrats will turn the bunker of hostage (Lulzim), Basha, into their house of freedom,” Berisha said, pledging to continue the protest.
Berisha called for a “national protest” against the Open Balkan initiative, and the “affair of the incinerators”, after a torrid weekend, when he had attempted to dismiss the current leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, through a referendum, but was also dismissed by him.
Basha fired Berisha from the parliamentary group in September following US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that Berisha’s “corrupt acts” as prime minister between 2005 and 2013 had “undermined democracy in Albania. That led to Albanian protests all around the country.
Albania is pushing for full EU membership
Police intervened with a water cannon and tear gas to push protesters away from the centre-right Democratic Party’s headquarters.
Five civilians and one police officer were “wounded,” according to Local police in Tirana.
The European Union office in Tirana condemned the violence; Albania is waiting for the EU to launch the full membership negotiations.