From: Exit Staff
Basha Testifies on January 8 Protests; Berisha Announces Next Gathering in Shkodra

Democratic Party (PD) chairman Lulzim Basha testified before Tirana prosecutors this afternoon regarding the January 8 protests at the PD headquarters organized by ex Prime Minister and President Sali Berisha.

Following his testimony, Basha said that PD members were used by Berisha to further his personal interests.

Berisha appeared before prosecutors tomorrow and announced that protests would continue, calling on Democrats to meet him in the northern city of Shkodra on Sunday (16 January).

On Saturday, Berisha led a crowd of supporters to the PD headquarters in Tirana. They then attacked the building, smashing windows, and broke down the door with a battering ram, crowbars, and a sledgehammer. Special forces and state police dispersed the crowd after one hour with gas and water cannons and made 34 arrests.

All 34 people were released by a Tirana court on Wednesday (January 12). 28 were given the obligation to appear for trial.

On Tuesday (11 January), PD leadership, under the guidance of Lulzim Basha, expelled Berisha and several other members from the Party. They argued that the events on Saturday had endangered the lives of PD members who were inside the building at the time, as well as the lives of those who had participated in the protest.

The dispute came after PD Chairman Lulzim Basha unilaterally dismissed Berisha from the parliamentary group following the latter’s destination as persona non grata by the US for “significant corruption”. Pressure from the US and even the EU led to Basha taking the decision the night before parliament resumed in September, without putting it for a party vote.

Berisha responded by vowing to take back the party’s leadership and oust Basha. Both sides have voted to expel the other, and both claim they have the only legitimate rights.