Opposition Fireworks: Chaos Erupts in Albanian Parliament as Budget Vote Crumbles

Opposition Fireworks: Chaos Erupts in Albanian Parliament as Budget Vote Crumbles

Albanian Parliament Descends into Chaos as Opposition Party Attempts to Block Budget Vote TIRANA - The Albanian opposition Democratic Party made a dramatic and unsuccessful attempt to disrupt parliamentary proceedings on Monday, as members set off smoke bombs and started a small fire in the middle of the chamber. The chaotic scene unfolded as lawmakers were preparing to vote on the 2024 budget.

MPs from the Democratic Party piled chairs in the center of the chamber, creating a makeshift barricade, while red, green, and purple smoke filled the air, creating a visually striking but chaotic atmosphere. Security forces were quick to intervene and prevented protesters from approaching Prime Minister Edi Rama's seat. In the midst of the chaos, one opposition MP ignited a small fire in a container, which momentarily spread before being extinguished by fellow politicians. Sali Berisha, the de facto leader of the opposition and a former prime minister and president, accused the government of trying to stifle opposition voices in parliament.

Speaking to reporters, Berisha stated, "The battle has no way back. Our goal is to bring pluralism to parliament." The opposition has been vocal in its criticism of the government, accusing Prime Minister Rama of orchestrating corruption charges against Berisha and his son-in-law. Last month, prosecutors filed corruption charges against Berisha and his son-in-law related to a land deal involving a sports club's grounds. The charges allege that during Berisha's tenure as prime minister from 2005 to 2009, he abused his influence to favor certain individuals, including his daughter's spouse, in privatization procedures.

While Berisha's son-in-law, who lacks parliamentary immunity, was arrested, Berisha himself, as an MP, is immune from prosecution. Despite the charges, he has been ordered not to leave the country and vehemently denies any wrongdoing. Berisha maintains that Prime Minister Rama is behind the legal action, an accusation that Rama denies. The disruption caused by the opposition's actions in parliament highlights the deep divisions and tensions within Albania's political landscape. With the budget vote overshadowed by these events, it remains to be seen how the government will restore calm and ensure the smooth functioning of the country's democratic institutions.

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