Clashes as protesters enter Albania opposition HQ in Tirana
Albanian police intervened on Saturday to move away hundreds of protesters who broke into the Tirana headquarters of the country’s main opposition party in an internal squabble over the party's leadership. Staff at the center-right Democratic Party’s headquarters used tear gas to try to prevent them breaking in before the police intervened at the party's request. Scores of officers then used a water cannon truck and tear gas to push away protesters who had stormed the ground floor of the building, detaining some. The protesters led by former party leader Sali Berisha had used iron bars and hammers to break open the main doors of the building. Berisha is trying to remove the Democrats’ leader, Lulzim Basha, whom he accuses of being a “hostage” of Prime Minister Edi Rama of the left-wing Socialist Party. Basha fired Berisha from the parliamentary group in September. That followed an intervention in May by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said in a statement that during Berisha’s 2005-2013 tenure as prime minister, the politician “was involved in corrupt acts ... using his power for his own benefit and to enrich his political allies and his family members." In December Berisha’s grouping claimed to have held a referendum removing Basha from his post, but the move was not recognized by the Democratic Party. Berisha, 77, served as Albania’s prime minister from 2005 until 2013 and as president from 1992-1997. He was reelected as a lawmaker for the Democratic Party in last April’s parliamentary election.