Opposition protestors tossed Molotov cocktails at the Albanian government headquarters on Saturday, while the police responded with tear gas. The Balkan country’s accession to the EU is to be decided in less than two months.
There were at least 1,500 officers guarding the government’s office in the capital Tirana, the entrance to which had been reinforced with steel plates. The police initially tried to ignore provocations, but when the crowd employed incendiary bottles and smoke bombs a violent response couldn’t be avoided.
The protesters began tossing Molotovs at the building as opposition leader Lulzim Basha was delivering a speech to his supporters. Thousands gathered for peaceful demonstrations in the city center.
Basha and his Democratic Party quit the Parliament in February, accusing the Albanian authorities of fraud in the 2017 election.
Since then, the opposition has been staging protests, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama and a transition government that would assure a free and fair vote to be formed.
The Democratic Party already announced they’ll be boycotting the local election, which is scheduled to take place on June 30. Rama, who refuses to step down, insisted that the vote will take place without the opposition.
The EU and the US have been backing Rama as the legitimate PM and have been calling on the opposition to refrain from violence during protests and return to the parliament.
There's less than two months remaining before European Union member states are to decide if Albania and North Macedonia are fit for the talks on them joining the bloc to begin.