Supporters of Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party (DP) set fire to an effigy of Prime Minister Edi Rama at a protest on March 18, a video of the protest posted on YouTube showed.
Protests have taken place daily since they began on February 18. Six days later the DP also decided to boycott the activities of the parliament, and is threatening not to take part in the June parliamentary election.
According to some media reports, around 1,500 police officers were deployed to secure the protest on March 18, the 29th day since the protests began.
Several renowned artists joined the protest, and DP leader Luzhim Basha promised support for art and artists in what he dubbed “the new republic”.
The protests are being held in and around a big tent pitched in front of Rama’s office in downtown Tirana. Protestors are also demanding the resignation of Rama, whose government they have accused of corruption.
The DP is continuing to push for a caretaker government to be installed to prepare for the June 18 general election.
As well as burning the effigy, protesters brandished signs saying “Mafia Rama & Soros F*** Off”, in another example of the vilification of US-Hungarian financier Gyorgy Soros by politicians in several Central and East European countries.
Rama said on March 19 that the election will be held even if the opposition decides to boycott it. In his weekly address published on Facebook, Rama said that the opposition protests are “artificial” and intended to produce a political crisis.
The upcoming election, together with the key judicial reforms currently in progress, could pave the way for Albania to launch its long-awaited EU accession negotiations.
The Socialist Party currently has 65 seats in the 140-seat parliament while the Democrats, who were in power from 2005 until 2013 have 50 seats. The Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI), which is in coalition with the SP, has 16 seats.
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