Albanian opposition disrupts parliament, supporters rally

Feb 15, 2023, 3:35 PM | Updated: Feb 16, 2023, 6:10 am

A man rides a horse during an anti-government rally outside the parliament in Tirana, Albania, Thur...

A man rides a horse during an anti-government rally outside the parliament in Tirana, Albania, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. Thousands of Albanian opposition supporters hold one more anti-government protest accusing it of alleged corruption and economic poverty. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

(AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian opposition supporters protested anew outside the country’s Parliament Thursday as lawmakers demanding the government’s resignation for alleged corruption tried to disrupt the house’s session, blowing whistles and crowding the podium.

In their third protest in a week, hundreds of people — including a man who arrived on horseback from a northern area — gathered outside Parliament’s main entrance and some threw smoke bombs at police guarding the building. But the turnout and intensity of the crowd was smaller than during a similar protest on Monday.

No arrests or injuries were reported, and protesters left after two hours while opposition lawmakers inside continued to disrupt the session.

The protests are being organized by the center-right Democratic Party of former president and prime minister Sali Berisha, and the left-wing Freedom Party of former president Ilir Meta.

The opposition accuses Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Cabinet of corruption, links to organized crime and poor economic policies, and blames Rama for the exodus of young Albanians seeking jobs in Western European countries.

The government denies that. It argues that it has kept inflation low compared to elsewhere in Europe, and has subsidized electricity bills for families and small businesses.

The opposition set March 3 as a day of a national protest.

The same day an appeals court will decide who should lead the main opposition Democrats — Berisha or his predecessor Lulzim Basha.

The party has been plagued by infighting after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in 2021 barred Berisha and his close relatives from entering the U.S. for “corrupt acts that undermined democracy” during his 2005-2013 tenure as prime minister.

Britain did the same last year.

The governing Socialists on Thursday accepted an opposition request for a debate with Rama, who the opposition claims corrupted Charles McGonigal, a former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official. McGonigal is accused in the United States of hiding from the FBI key details of a 2017 trip he took to Albania with a former Albanian intelligence official who is alleged to have given him at least $225,000.

McGonigal met with Albania’s prime minister several times and urged caution in awarding oil field drilling licenses in the country to Russian front companies.

Rama has acknowledged meeting with McGonigal but denied allegations of giving him money or preferential treatment.


Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

1 day ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

1 day ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

3 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

4 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

5 days ago

Albanian opposition disrupts parliament, supporters rally