Thousands of Albanians call for Edi Rama's resignation

Opposition supporters call on Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign over his cabinet's alleged links to organised crime.

    Opposition supporters call on Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign in Tirana [Visar Kryeziu/AP]
    Opposition supporters call on Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign in Tirana [Visar Kryeziu/AP]

    Thousands of people protested in Albania's capital Tirana, calling for Prime Minister Edi Rama to resign over his cabinet's alleged links to organised crime.

    Supporters of the centre-right Democratic Party and allied opposition parties gathered at Tirana's main Boulevard, Martyrs of the Nation, on Saturday, shouting anti-government slogans such as "Rama go" and "No to narco-state".

    Protesters also carried portraits of Rama and former interior minister Saimir Tahiri, who is under investigation on charges of corruption and collusion with cannabis traffickers.

    Rama, whose Socialist Party won a second term in parliamentary elections in June last year, has denied links to the illegal cannabis trade.

    Lulzim Basha, the leader of the Democratic Party, called for "an anti-Mafia government that will secure free and fair elections" as a precondition for Albania's integration into Europe, according to Albania's official news agency. 

    Albania, among Europe's poorest countries, was granted EU candidate status in 2014.

    Accusing the government of rights abuses, Basha said: "On behalf of all Albanians and the opposition, we ask that Edi Rama and his illegal government leaves".

    Protesters carried portraits of Rama and his former interior minister [Gent Shkullaku/AFP]

    More than 10,000 people turned out for the rally, according to local journalists, but an opposition spokesman told Albanian Daily News that some 500,000 Albanians took part in the "protest against the government of crime, drugs and corruption". 

    The rally, which took place under a heavy police presence, ended peacefully after speeches from opposition leaders.

    Rama's government sacked its national police chief earlier this month and vowed to crack down on the country's illegal-but-lucrative cannabis industry. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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