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article imagePolice and protesters clash outside Albanian parliament

By AFP     Feb 16, 2019 in World

Thousands of opposition supporters clashed with police outside the Albanian parliament on Saturday during an anti-government protest demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The socialist prime minister, in power since 2013, has been accused of corruption by his critics.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters, some of whom tried to enter the parliamentary building in the capital Tirana by forcing their way through the main entrance.

Five police officers and around ten demonstrators and journalists required hospital treatment, mostly for breathing problems after the clashes, the health ministry said.

Protesters repeatedly tried to break through police lines.

The socialist prime minister has been in power since 2013. His critics accuse him of corruption
The socialist prime minister has been in power since 2013. His critics accuse him of corruption
Gent SHKULLAKU, AFP

Several windows were broken as some demonstrators threw smoke grenades and stones towards the parliament building.

"The situation is out of control," said Lulzim Basha, an organiser of the protest and leader of the main opposition centre-right Democratic Party.

He blamed the police for having let the demonstrators get too close to the building so as to "incite violence" and allow Rama to denounce the opposition.

On Wednesday Basha had told a meeting of his supporters that "the 16th of February will be the last day in power for Rama".

Saturday's demonstration in the capital was the latest in a series that Basha has organised.

Thousands of demonstrators were still massed outside parliament in the early afternoon
Thousands of demonstrators were still massed outside parliament in the early afternoon
Gent SHKULLAKU, AFP

An opposition coalition made up of five parties, ranging from the centre right to the centre left, has accused Rama of "collusion with organised crime" and plunging "the country into corruption and poverty".

They want him to stand aside in favour of a government of technocrats who would prepare early parliamentary elections.

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