Albania’s opposition held a large protest this evening against Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government.
The ninth protest since February the opposition left the Parliament came amidst growing public discontent, following the latest damning wiretaps published by the German newspaper Bild two days ago, which seemed to show senior Socialist Party officials, ministers, MPs, police and civil servants colluding with criminals in vote rigging during the 2016 early local elections in Dibër county.
Journalists on the ground reported a significantly larger participation in the protest.
The opposition is demanding Prime Minister Rama to resign and open the way for justice to arrest and indict those involved in vote rigging. They accuse Rama of autocratic rule and of having captured the justice system in the country. They have also called for a transitional government and an end to government corruption.
In his speech to the crowd of protesters, opposition leader Lulzim Basha focused on the wiretaps published by the Voice of America and German newspaper Bild. He said that the Socialist Party held to power in collusion with criminals and through intimidation of voters and public administration, in violation of democratic principles.
He stated that a deep change in the political system of the country will follow once Rama’s “corrupt and criminal” rule comes to an end.
Basha repeated that the opposition were not going to allow for the June 30 local elections to take place.
The local election date was cancelled by a presidential decree which the government has dismissed as unconstitutional. The President also argues that elections without the participation of the opposition would be unconstitutional. For more than a year Albania has a dysfunctional Constitutional Court, with one single judge, which cannot adjudicate on the case of election date dispute.
Prime Minister Rama has refused to resign and has vowed to hold local elections without the opposition. He claims that their protests aim at blocking the country’s European integration and damaging its image.
Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters chanted “Rama, go!” and “We want Albania as all Europe!” when Basha asserted that no negotiations will take place between the opposition and the ruling Socialist Party as long as Rama remains prime minister.