Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Political Crisis Turned Violent Threatens Albania’s Undoing

Albania has been in the grips of a political crisis since 2009 elections, which opposition forces say were fraudulent, and ongoing protests came to a head on 21 January when National Guards opened fire on protesters in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, killing three people and wounding dozens of others.

Edi Rama, leader of the opposition Socialists, accused Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Interior Minister Lulzim Basha of orchestrating the “bloodbath”, and called for their arrest. A preliminary investigation into the incident showed that the bullets that killed the protesters had indeed come from the National Guards. The General Prosecutor’s Office ordered the arrest of six National Guards, but the police refused to honor the request.

On 30 January, police in Tirana said they had arrested three people who allegedly made death threats against Rama.

A parliamentary commission charged with investigating the 21 January violence has reportedly asked mobile companies to provide them with lists of phone conversations involving senior state officials. However, opposition forces have criticized the move, expressing skepticism on how the parliamentary commission will use this power. Rama said such a request was illegal and represented the parliamentary commission’s “plan to implement a system of violence and scare people”. The Socialists purportedly fear that if the commission is granted access to mobile phone records it could abuse this power and use it against opposition figures rather than senior state officials.......................................more see:


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