Albanian Protesters Throw Firebombs, Seek Early Elections

Albanian protesters threw firebombs at the police Monday evening, and the supporters of opposition parties gathered in the capital, Tirana, to ask for the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and early elections.

Opposition supporters marched in front of the main government buildings amid rain, but did not attempt to break the police barrier as they did on Saturday. Instead, they threw firecrackers at the prime minister’s offices. 

Hours earlier, officials from the United States, European Union and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe had called for restraint.

The U.S. Embassy in Tirana called on opposition leaders to “condemn publicly the violent acts of their supporters” and on the authorities “to act with restraint.”

The violent actions that took place during Saturday’s protest “were unlawful and undemocratic,” the U.S. statement read.

European parliamentarians, from both the left and right, in an open public letter on Monday called on Albanians to show restraint and “not to jeopardize the country’s prospects on its European path.”

Albania expects to hear in June whether the EU will give the green light for opening accession talks. 

The white smoke from flares was seen in the sky Monday night, but calls for restraint appear to have been heeded. 

At the beginning of the protest, opposition leader Lulzim Basha told his supporters they were marching “in front of the institutions that symbolize the crime.” Besides the offices of the prime minister, demonstrators also protested in front of the Interior Ministry, police headquarters and parliament.

A similar protest Saturday turned violent. About 50 opposition supporters were also arrested.

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