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In Albania, the opposition sets fire to the hemicycle to protest against the draft budget

INTERNATIONAL – The flames of anger. The Albanian opposition Democratic Party (PDS) set off smoke bombs this Monday, November 20, and lit a fire in the middle of Parliament with the aim of preventing the vote on the 2024 budget. Already, in 2019, the right-wing deputies had launched smoke bombs to protest against the election by the socialist majority of a new attorney general.

As you can see in our video at the top of the article, conservative opposition MPs first stacked chairs before setting them on fire. Security quickly intervened to protect Edi Rama, the Prime Minister and president of the Socialist Party.

The incident came after the Socialists, who hold 73 seats in the 140-strong Albanian Parliament, held a quick vote in principle and closed the session within five minutes.

Sali Berisha, opposition leader accused of corruption

Opposition leader Sali Berisha, former prime minister and first post-communist president of Albania from 1992 to 1997, accused the government of trying to silence the opposition in Parliament, reports the British daily The Guardian. “Our objective is to restore pluralism in parliament”he insisted again.

Bledi Cuci, head of the Socialists’ parliamentary group, replied that Parliament was approving the largest budget ever, twice as large as in 2013, when the Socialists came to power, notes ABC News.

In Albania, the opposition sets fire to the hemicycle to protest against the draft budget

“They (the opposition) introduced the vocabulary and mores of the street into politics (…) sowing discord, chaos, violence” castigated Edi Rama on X (formerly Twitter)

The tension between socialists and conservatives began last month, two days before prosecutors charged Sali Berisha with corruption in a case involving sports club grounds, Reuters says.

The public prosecutor suspects him of having used his influence as former Prime Minister in the context of a land transaction in which he favored his daughter’s husband. His son-in-law was arrested, but Sali Berisha enjoys immunity as a deputy. He was ordered not to leave the country.

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