ISSN 2330-717X

Albania: Opposition Plan Mass Protest Despite ‘Treason’ Charge


By Gjergj Erebara

Albania’s opposition Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI, have finalised their preparations for a major protest on Saturday in Tirana, demanding the resignation of the Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, who they accuse of engaging in drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, opposition MPs effectively blocked the work of parliament last week, disrupting hearings and refusing to discuss anything except their allegations about Xhafaj.

Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama attempted to maintain a show of normality by holding meetings with supporters across the country where government officials presented the alleged achievements of the government and listened to people’s problems.

In the course of the so-called “tour of accountability”, Rama made several speeches per day, claiming big successes in improving the economy and social services, justifying controversial decisions to award concessionary contracts for various public services and promising new roads.

Along with these acts, Rama and other Socialist Party officials have slated the opposition’s claims against the Interior Minister as “a fabrication” designed to undermine Albania’s hopes of opening EU membership talks next June.

“This is an unprecedented act of historic betrayal of this country,” Rama said in parliament on Tuesday, referring to the opposition attacks and the scheduled protest. “This is anti-European propaganda,” he added.

Answering to the allegation, Lulzim Basha, head of the Democratic Party, said: “Your government’s links with crime and corruption are the true obstacles to [EU] integration.

“You are the true traitors to the citizens and you did this just to fill your pockets by allying yourself with organized crime and drug traffickers.”

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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