On Thursday, opposition legislators in the Albanian Parliament tried to interrupt a session in protest of what they call the Socialist government’s growing authoritarian leadership.
Albania is a small nation in southeastern Europe that borders the Adriatic and Ionian seas and has the Albanian Alps passing through its center.
According to reports, to prevent Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialists from taking their places, Democrats stacked chairs in the chamber’s center. Socialists were pushed, and Democrats threw firecrackers.
Eventually, the 140-person House of Representatives convened, and 73 Socialist lawmakers unanimously passed 21 bills.
Democrat Party leader Sali Berisha said the socialists didn’t respect the strike, but his party would keep going if parliament persisted. Democrats have promised more extreme demonstrations but haven’t provided specifics.
Parliament interruptions started two weeks ago, on the day when Democrat Party leader Berisha was charged with misconduct in connection with a land-buying fraud by prosecutors in Tirana.
Berisha reportedly helped his son-in-law, Jamarber Malltezi, 50, financially. Last month, Berisha said that he had been told not to flee the country by the office of the prosecutor responsible for high official or severe case problems.
Money laundering and unscrupulous practices led to Malltezi’s detention. The prosecution claims that Berisha used his position as prime minister to illegally purchase land from the private sector and the military ministry in Tirana to build 17 luxury apartments.
Berisha says they are innocent and maintains that Rama is driving the accusations.
A report shows Taulant Balla, minister of the interior, was accused of organized crime by the Democrats. But no evidence has yet been brought forth.
According to a state website, in October 2017, Balla became the Socialist Party Secretary General till September 2021. He became Albania’s interior minister in July 2023.
Berisha was Albania’s prime minister (2005-2013) and president (1992-1997). The parliamentary election in 2021 reelected him as a Democrat Party lawmaker.
Due to corruption allegations, the US and UK banned Berisha and relatives from entering in May 2021 and July 2022, respectively. Berisha is one of four Albanian officials forbidden from visiting the U.S.
Post-communist Albania has been unable to eliminate corruption, hindering economic, political, and social growth.