Thousands of citizens have gathered peacefully in front of the parliament of Albania in their second day of protest called by the opposition.
Citizens are calling on the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign, and they are demanding the installment of a transitional government and free and fair early elections to take place.
Two days ago, 64 of 65 center-right and center-left opposition members of parliament responded positively to opposition leader Lulzim Basha’s unprecedented call to resign from their parliamentary mandates in what they called a last-resort attempt to stop the corrupt government of Prime Minister Edi Rama. The Socialist Party of Rama still hold the majority in the 140-seat parliament.
The opposition decision came after last Saturday’s protest of tens of thousands of citizens in front of the Prime Minister’s office.
Yesterday, the Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruci cancelled today’s weekly parliamentary session citing fears of violent protests.
The government surrounded the parliament building with barbed wire and heavy police forces.
The traditionally highly influential western countries’ embassies have called on the opposition to reverse the decision to resign from MP-mandates and to restrain from violence. The statements of foreign embassies were met with suspicion and anger by many Albanians on social media, as well by many political analysts in the country.
Head of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha said that opposition’s decision is based on the will of people who protested against the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama on Saturday. The buying of votes in the 2017 elections by the Socialist Party (PS) in collusion with criminal gangs, rampant corruption, government capture of the judiciary system, lack of a functioning Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, and violation of human rights were the main reasons pushing the opposition to vacate its seats in the parliament.
Yesterday, Basha called on the prosecution to arrest politicians involved in vote buying and corruption.
An investigation published by the Voice of America revealed that Mayor of Durrës Vangjush Dako had colluded with the Avdylajs criminal gang in buying votes during the 2017 general elections. Vangjush Dako is still free and exercising his duty as mayor.
The media also exposed a corrupt tender scheme where the government gave two tenders at the value of €30 million to a ghost company registered in the US with all documents forged, including signatures of high officials of the State of Delaware. Prime Minister Rama sacked the Minister of Energy Damian Gjiknuri, more than half of his cabinet and many lower level officials in an attempt to placate the public anger. However, the opposition claims that Rama himself is the one who controlled the corruption and the vote buying.
In what appears to be in contrast with government’s heavy measures and embassies’ warnings, the ongoing protest appears to be peaceful, with citizens laying flowers and lighting candles symbolizing a deceased parliament.