EU, US warn Albanian opposition over protest violence and parliament walkout

EU, US warn Albanian opposition over protest violence and parliament walkout
Opposition leader Lulzim Basha has called for a transition government to be established until a snap general election is held.
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 20, 2019

The EU and the US have warned Albania's opposition parties against violence during protests and their decision to abandon the parliament.

The warning came after the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and later the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) decided to leave the work of the Albanian assembly.

On February 16, the DP held a major protest in Tirana, accusing the ruling Socialists of crime, corruption and bad governance. The demonstration turned violent and ended with 15 injured and several people arrested. The next protest will be held on February 21.

EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca said on February 20 that he told DP leader Lulzim Basha and his supporters to avoid violence during the upcoming protest on Thursday.

The US embassy said in the statement on February 19 that the threats by the DP, the LSI, and other opposition parties to abandon their mandates “undermine the basic principles of democracy and subvert the important progress Albania has achieved on rule of law and responsible governance.”

“If you fail to do your job, you fail the people you are privileged to serve,” the embassy said.

Meanwhile, Albanian President Ilir Meta called on all political parties to avoid undesirable confrontations as a result of the spiraling political crisis.

Meta made his comments in Berlin in an interview with Deutsche Welle. The president said that violent protests are harmful for the country at a time when Tirana is waiting to be invited to launch accession talks in June 2019.

The DP has 43 lawmakers in the 140-seat parliament versus 74 of the governing Socialist Party. The LSI  has 19 seats.

DP leader Basha asked a few days ago for a transition government to be established until a snap general election is held.

Prime Minister Edi Rama is against an early election. His party won an overwhelming majority in the last general election, allowing the Socialists to dispense with their former coalition partner, the LSI. 

The Democratic Party previously used parliamentary boycotts to confront the work of the government.

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