On February 18, the scheduled protest of opposition Democratic Party took a sudden turn – it was concluded by setting up a huge tent in the main boulevard, aiming to continue protests until the opposition’s demands were met. The key demand is to force the socialist government to resign, to elect a technical government that will empower electronic voting in the coming elections of June. According to the Democratic Party, this way of holding the electoral process would avoid stealing votes. The socialist government is also accussed by the opposition of favouring corruption and organized crime, turning Albania into a thriving, narcotic, agricultural country.
During the protest of 18 February, thousands of people gathered in the main boulevard, in front of the Prime Ministry. The protest was regarded as the biggest held by the opposition during the four-year socialist leadership of the country, though as a delayed reaction coming just only four months before the new elections.
Lulzim Basha, the leader of Democratic Party, addressed the protesters: “We will stay here, until we provide free and fair governmental elections. We won’t allow false elections. I invite all of you to stick to each other, in order to achieve our aim. The only way is to abolish this corrupted government and elect a new technical one. This is my decision. We riot together, we win together. Albania wins through us.”
“We are gathered here to say that enough is enough. Today we start our journey towards a new beginning, which every Albanian is seeking. We will make free elections possible; otherwise there will be no elections. There is no other way out. No tainted elections, not anymore! This harlequin government has failed once and for all. The Albanian people is suffering all the consequences. The Prime Minister is a disgrace to the country.”
Basha called on readiness to arise collectively and get rid of the actual government, which he described as a government of crime and corruption.
The protest was peaceful and democratic, contrary to what was feared before. The Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, was away during that time. In one of his FB posts, he reminded people of 21 January 2011, when 4 people were shot in the same place during the socialist opposition riot against Democratic government of that time. He maintained that nowadays rioters are not afraid to protest, no one prohibits them or shoots them, only because they want to meet their demands peacefully.
Meanwhile, many analysts in the country have considered the last opposition protest as delayed and copied, recalling that the same type of protest, by setting up tents on the boulevard, was held by Socialist Party in opposition in 2009, without reaching a final aim.
Meanwhile, after setting up the big tent in the boulevard, two Democratic Party members have been sued for an illegal rally, referring to the time the protest was scheduled. The protesters are staying in the tent by turns, being accompanied by democratic leaders.
Will the opposition find a solution to meet its demands? It is not yet sure.
Aldo Bumci, a Democratic MP, appeared on TV and warned that the opposition is ready to find other possible ways to win. He compared this protest with what occurred in Romania some days ago.