Tuesday, 14 August 2018 | News today: 19

Albania opposition rallies to demand government resignation

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Thousands of Albanian opposition supporters held an anti-government protest Saturday calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama, whom they accuse of links to organized crime, AP reports.

Supporters led by the main conservative Democratic Party’s leader Lulzim Basha on Saturday marched along the capital Tirana’s Martyrs of the Nation boulevard calling “Rama go.” They held anti-government posters and Albanian and European Union flags, and some threw stones and hard objects at Rama’s office building and the Interior Ministry.

“There is only one way out — this government being kicked out by the united people,” said Basha.

Basha said “hundreds of thousands” of supporters were taking part at the rally. Police gave no figures.

Some protesters pulled down a fence at the Interior Ministry and tried to break in the police cordon. The Democrats showed a picture of their newspaper’s editor-in-chief Blendi Kasmi injured in skirmishes with police. The rally ended peacefully after about two hours.

Meanwhile, Rama took to Facebook to thank the Democrats “who do not support the government but still refused to take part” in the rally.

The Democrats also accuse Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj of supporting his brother’s drug-related activities. Earlier this month his brother Agron handed himself over to the Italian authorities to serve a drug-related sentence in 2002.

The minister denies the allegations, saying he would resign the moment the claims are proven.

The Democrats suffered a landslide loss in last year’s vote, securing only 43 seats in the 140-seat parliament.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009, is expecting to launch negotiations to join the EU next month.