Albania opposition supporters try to storm parliament
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian opposition protesters on Thursday made further attempts to enter the parliament by force as they demand the government’s resignation and an early election.
A few thousand center-right Democratic Party-led protesters used smoke bombs and projectiles and repeatedly clashed with police in an attempt to break the cordon protecting the parliament building where the weekly session was held.
Police refrained from the use of tear gas, which they had used in previous rallies.
Opposition leaders and others made short speeches.
“Our greatest mission is to topple the government of crime,” said Democrats’ leader Lulzim Basha, calling on all Albanians to join.
Elsewhere, a group of demonstrators tried to disrupt the arrival of a visiting Dutch minister for a meeting with the interior minister.
The opposition accuses the leftist Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Edi Rama of being corrupt and linked to organized crime, which the government denies. Opposition lawmakers resigned en masse in February and, since then, opposition supporters have repeatedly tried to enter the parliament or government buildings and police have responded with tear gas and water cannons.
Lawmakers, with about 20 newcomers from the opposition lists who have filled the vacant seats, are continuing to hold sessions.
The Socialists say the opposition’s protests are damaging Albania’s progress toward membership in the European Union. Brussels is due to decide in June on launching full membership negotiations.
The opposition says it will hold protests whenever the parliament convenes in weekly sessions. A bigger rally is planned for mid-April.
Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini