Opposition Protests after Speaker Ruçi Calls an Unscheduled Session  

Opposition supporters are protesting in front of the parliament following a short notice call by opposition party leaders three hours ago. Meanwhile, inside the parliament the socialist majority is holding a parliamentary session scheduled also only few hours ago.

Earlier today, Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruçi unexpectedly summoned the so-called Conference of Chairmen to decide to hold a parliamentary session today. The conference is made up of the heads of parliamentary groups and committees, and it sets the agenda of the parliament. Only representatives of the socialist majority were present in today’s meeting which resulted in the decision to hold a parliamentary session this evening, possibly to make up for last Thursday’s cancellation. Last week, Speaker Ruçi cancelled the weekly session due to fear of “violent opposition protest”. The protest was peaceful.

The opposition called today’s meeting “an illegal meeting”, and invited its supporters to gather in two hours in front of the parliament. Few thousand citizens took to the streets.

The parliament regulation stipulates that as a rule the meeting of the Conference of Chairmen has to be held 48 hours after its members are notified. Mr Ruçi has not clarified why he considered this meeting an exception from the rule.

Police have surrounded the parliament building, and the Socialist Party MPs are holding the session as usual inside. Protesters lit a car tire and threw items towards the entrance of parliament.

Opposition MPs who have resigned from their mandates are spoke to the crowd of protestors, who were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama and free and fair elections.

Incidents between protestors and police were reported. Police have fired tear gas several times to disperse the protestors.