Friday, February 4, 2011
Albania Opposition Brings Tirana to Standstill
Tens of thousands of Socialist opposition protesters rallied in four Albanian cities on Friday, in an effort to put pressure on the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and force early elections.
Besar Likmeta Tirana The rallies, which were held in the cities of Vlora, Lezha, Korca as well as the capital Tirana, were the third wave of protests launched by the opposition in the last three weeks. Police said that no incidents were reported and the protests passed peacefully. In Tirana, the thousands of protesters that showed up brought the city to a standstill. The marchers avoided the area of the capital where government offices are located in a clear effort to avoid confrontations with police.
Today's rallies come two weeks after an initial protest, held on January 21, turned violent when several hundred marchers attacked the police barricade set up to protect the prime minister’s office, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails. Police responded with tear gas, water cannons and later with live ammunition fire, leaving three dead and dozens wounded.
“The government killed them,” protesters shouted as they walked down Tirana’s streets on Friday. Others called for the resignation of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and lashed out against corruption in his government. Last week's rally in Tirana, held in remembrance of the three victims of the first protest, was peaceful despite rising political tension in the country.