11 February 2023

Thousands take part in anti-government protests in Albania

11 February 2023

Thousands of opposition supporters took part in a protest calling for Albania’s prime minister to resign over corruption allegations.

Sali Berisha, a former president and prime minister of Albania who leads the centre-right Democratic Party, and former president Ilir Meta, who leads the left-wing Freedom Party, were among the protesters who gathered in front of the main government building.

Protesters shouted for prime minister Edi Rama of the ruling centre-left Socialist Party to resign.

“Time has come for this revolution to bring out the corrupt money and turn them into higher salaries and pensions,” Mr Berisha said.

Protesters hurled smoke bombs at the main entrance of the government building, where hundreds of police officers formed a line to protect the building in Tirana.

Mr Rama’s critics accused him of corruption and hold him responsible for the exodus of young Albanians who have left to pursue jobs in western European countries.

He says his cabinet has kept inflation low compared to elsewhere in Europe, and has subsidised electricity for families and small businesses.

The opposition also accuses Mr Rama of corrupting Charles McGonigal, a former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official.

Mr McGonigal is accused in the US of hiding key details of a 2017 trip he took to Albania with a former Albanian intelligence official who is alleged to have given him at least 225,000 dollars (£186,500).

Mr McGonigal met with Albania’s prime minister and urged caution in awarding oil field drilling licenses in the country to Russian front companies.

Mr Rama has acknowledged meeting with Mr McGonigal but denied allegations of giving him money or preferential treatment.

Mr Berisha called for another protest at the parliament on Monday.

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