Albania’s political turmoil continues

Tirana appears to be embroiled into a serious political turmoil which might destabilise the already fragile security conditions in Albania and increase tensions with the local Greek ethnic minority. Tensions came to a head last Saturday when a mass demonstration took place against the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, leader of the Social Party, has been extensively accused by opposition parties over a series of corruption scandals. These are linked to personal donations received by members of the government to give the green light for major infrastructural development projects, such as the reconstruction of Albania’s national road network. These scandals are also complemented by allegations of vote-buying practices during the 2017 parliamentary elections, and of possible collusion of politics with the operation of underground criminal cells in the country.

In anticipation to Saturday’s rally, the Democratic Party head Lulzim Basha and his counterpart of the Socialist Movement for Integration Monika Kryemadhi called the Albanian citizens to protest in the most peaceful way possible against the collapsing government of Prime Minister Rama. Nonetheless, the mass demonstration quickly escalated into a violent confrontation between protesters and police forces supervising the rally. Protesters attempted to ransack the Prime Minister’s Office and the police forces counteracted by throwing tear gas and pressurised water to fend off incoming demonstrators. The four-hour protest concluded with considerable damages to the front-side of the building, nineteen injuries and sixteen arrests.

Having attended the demonstration and blamed the police for the use of excessive violence, opposition parties rescheduled a second mass demonstration on the forthcoming Thursday, February 21st. Further, the opposition party leader Basha declared on Monday his readiness to withdraw the 33 parliamentary members (MPs) of his part from the Albanian Parliament to lead the country to early elections. The Democratic Party’s revolutionary plea on Monday was also endorsed by the MPs of smaller opposition parties with Mrs. Kryemadhi’s party also expected to follow suit. Mrs. Kryemadhi’s Social Movement for Integration currently holds 18 seats in the parliament. The Socialist Government of Prime Minister Edi Rama is represented by 74 MPs in the 140-seat parliament. A possible exodus of more than 50 MPs in the near future will most probably lead the country to early elections.

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