Albanian Tension Mounts Ahead of Opposition Rally

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
May 09 2017

As Albania's Democratic Party-led opposition readies for what some have predicted will be the 'biggest rally ever' on Saturday, concerns are growing also about possible violence. 

Opposition groups led by the Democratic Party, are preparing for a major rally in the Albanian capital, Tirana, on May 13, raising fears in some quarters that violence could occur.

After boycotting parliament for almost four months, demanding that the Prime Minister, Edi Rama, step down and allow the creation of a technical government, the opposition has refused to join negotiations on taking part in the June 18 general election.

The rally in Tirana is expected to be the biggest that the opposition has yet held, and its leaders have used harsh language when speaking about it.

The former Prime Minister and former Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha said in an interview for News 24 television on Saturday said that party might face a serious problem in managing so many people.

"The management of this protest is going to be the biggest problem. One time you manage [the crowd] and other times it manages you. This is the problem," Berisha said.

He also replied "Absolutely, yes," when asked if further escalation of the protest might occur after the rally.

Lulzim Basha, leader of the Democratic Party, on Sunday said that the opposition was determined to organise the biggest protest ever seen.

"We are going to conduct a peaceful war to stop the country from being taken hostage by crime and drugs," he said.

On Monday, Basha added that on May 13 the opposition intended to institutionalise what he has called "The New Republic".

The editor-in-chief of Java News portal, Skender Minxhozi, told BIRN that the messages coming from opposition had upped the tension, although hopefully this might not translate into real violence.

"I don't want to believe violence might occur, although the messages that are coming are strong. This might just be a strategy for the opposition to mobilise people," he said.

However, he said the Democratic Party was now a party outside the system, so every scenario was possible.

Minxhozi said the messages coming from Albania's international partners were also very strongly against violence, which could restrain the opposition.

On April 24, opposition supporters blocked main roads for an hour as a step towards the further escalation of their political protests.

Date: 09/05/2017