The parliamentary group of the Albanian opposition Democratic Party (DP) has decided to boycott the parliament for 10 days, after DP member and former prime minister Sali Berisha was banned from participating in parliamentary sessions for the same period of time.
The parliament office decided on April 22 to take disciplinary measures against Berisha upon the request of the governing Socialist Party after he called on citizens to “arm themselves”, claiming the government had failed to confront crime.
The decision to boycot the parliament was taken unanimously, the DP said in a statement. It said that Berisha's suspension was "unfair and unfounded in law".
On April 21, Berisha accused the government of having links to criminal gangs and failing to maintain security and order in the country. His statement, made during a parliamentary debate, followed the arrest of Emiljano Shullazi on organised crime charges on April 17.
Berisha caused an uproar in the parliament by accusing prime minister Edi Rama and other government officials of having ties to Shullazi, and calling on citizens to take up arms.
"I have a request today for Albanians. I call on them for their own security to get armed. They have to protect their homes, properties and people because they have no protection any longer," Berisha said according to Balkan Insight.
Berisha, Albania’s prime minister until 2013, also called for a new law on the possession of weapons, similar to the US law.
After the session, interior minister, Saimir Tahiri asked prosecutors to investigate Berisha's comment.
Berisha’s suspension from the parliament and committee sessions will last for ten days starting from Friday.
Gun violence is a serious issue in Albania, where in 1997, when the country was on the verge of civil war, Albanians broke into military depots and took more than half a million firearms. Many are still in private hands.
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