Fri, 19 Apr 2019

At least five police officers and dozens of opposition activists were injured in clashes with police in the Albanian capital, as demonstrators called for the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama's government.

Thousands of people gathered along Tirana's main boulevard on April 13, with many holding anti-government posters. Some threw flares, firecrackers and other objects at a police cordon at the main entrance to the government building.

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators as they pushed against the cordon at the parliament building, and Interior Minister Aleksandar Lleshaj said in a post to Twitter that five police officers had been hospitalized.

Opposition leaders said at least 15 activists were being treated for various injuries.

The protests were called by the Democratic Party-led opposition, which accuses Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama of being corrupt and having links to organized crime.

Rama has denied those allegations.

The Democratic leader, Lulzim Basha, has called for early elections, and urged supporters to keep up daily protests.

In previous protests since mid-February, opposition supporters have repeatedly tried to enter the government buildings and police have responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The United States and the European Union have warned the opposition against using or inciting violence and to hold talks with the ruling party.

Albania is hoping to get European Union approval to begin membership talks next month.

With reporting by AP and Balkan Insight

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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