Opposition party supporters in Albania clash over leadership

Police have fired water cannon and tear gas as stone-throwing protesters stormed the headquarters of the opposition group – the Democratic Party – in the Albanian capital, Tirana, amid a deepening power struggle.

At least one police officer and one protester were injured and dozens of protesters were arrested, police said on Saturday. The protests were later dispersed.

The protesters were supporters of former president and prime minister, Sali Berisha, who was thrown out of the party last year after Washington banned him from entering the United States over alleged corruption.

Last May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Berisha was involved in corrupt acts during his 2005-13 tenure as prime minister and used “his power for his own benefit and to enrich his political allies and his family members”, allegations Berisha has denied.

Berisha, 77, 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.

During Saturday’s unrest, Berisha supporters used hammers to smash open newly installed metal security doors at the offices and threw up ladders in a bid to reach the second floor.

Police said in a statement they were forced to intervene after “a group of lawmakers inside the Democratic Party requested police help because lives were in danger”.

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