On Saturday the 8th of January protestors stormed the headquarters of Albania’s Democratic Party. Protestors used hammers to smash open the metal security doors to the party offices and also threw up ladders against the building in an attempt to reach the second floor. Local media stated that lawmakers inside the building tried to keep protestors outside by spraying with fire extinguishers until the police arrived and dispersed the protestors with tear gas and a water cannon. According to the police, at least one of the protestors was injured and dozens were detained.
Internal power struggle
The protestors stormed the office of the Democratic Party because of a power struggle between two rivals within the party. The protestors who took to the streets on the 8th of January supported the former president and prime minister Sali Berisha. Berisha has been thrown out of the Democratic Party last year after he was banned from entering the United States due to corruption and abuse of power. Since then, Berisha has been challenging the leadership of Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha, who he has accused Basha as a traitor and ‘’hostage’’ of Albania’s current Prime Minister Edi Rami. In December, Berisha held an assembly where he claimed that the majority of the people voted to oust Basha as leader of the party. However, the decision is not recognized by the party’s highest decision-making body.
The violence on the 8th of January was condemned by the Democratic party, who stated that the events ‘’mark Sali Berisha’s final isolation and shameful move out of the political scene’’. Berisha himself, however, who was present at the protest, stated that the protests were part of an ‘’unstoppable revolution’’ and that his supporters would embark on a nationwide campaign. After being stopped from approaching the party headquarters by the police, he furthermore stated that ‘’ The battle will continue … we consider the party building as our home and we will liberate our home.’’