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Albania braces for fresh protests

 
 
 
 
 
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The mood of revolt has spread beyond the Arab world to the Balkans.

The Albanian opposition gearing up for another anti-government protest today and the police warning of a high risk of violence.

The opposition Socialist Party said the rally was aimed at honouring the three victims of violent clashes in last week’s anti-government demonstration. Protesters have been calling on the government to resign, claiming corruption and electoral fraud.

“I want to assure you it will be peaceful and quiet, there will be flowers and candles,” Socialist leader Edi Rama said yesterday.

“Everything will be normal, not provoking anyone and not being provoked by anyone.”

Police said the demonstration was a danger to national security, and warned that they could not guarantee the rally’s safety.

Mr Rama, who is Tirana’s Mayor, said he regretted the police statement.

“I would like to convey our deepest respect for the police . . . I am calling for respect and solidarity to be shown to the police.”

But demonstrators last week pelted police with stones and set police cars on fire.

The opposition has not yielded to appeals by the international community to cancel the protest. Leaders have urged participants to “silently follow the procession led by families of the victims, Rama and all Socialist deputies”.

Under Albania’s Muslim traditions, the seventh day after a death is a time to honour the dead.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha cancelled a pro-government rally planned for tonight (AEDT) in response to international pressure.

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