Members of Albania’s largest opposition party threw smoke bombs on Monday and started a small fire inside parliament in an attempt to prevent a vote on the 2024 state budget. Lawmakers from the Albanian Democratic Party accused the government of trying to silence the opposition.
In the pictures published by Reuters, the representatives can be seen throwing smoke bombs and stacking chairs in the middle of the hall. During the protests, another MP allegedly started a fire that other parliamentarians extinguished. Security guards at the scene tried to keep the demonstrators away from the place where Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was sitting.
Despite the protests, the Socialist Party, which enjoyed an absolute majority, went ahead with the vote, in which the budget was approved, and five minutes later the session closed.
Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha, a former prime minister who was also the first president of post-communist Albania from 1992 to 1997, said it was necessary to “bring pluralism to parliament,” accusing the government of silencing the opposition. The opposition also intends to form investigation committees into corruption cases that may involve members of the government, but the Socialists consider the proposal unconstitutional.
Disagreements between representatives began last month when Berisha was accused of corruption. The former prime minister denies these accusations and says that the operation in which he was accused was politically motivated.