Members of Parliament from Albania’s Democratic Party set off smoke bombs Monday in the middle of the country’s parliamentary chamber in protest of what they said was an unconstitutional vote on the country’s 2024 budget, the latest of a series of disruptions.
Discord between the opposition and the ruling party has been ongoing, with protesters in February calling for the resignation of Socialist Party Prime Minister Edi Rama, alleging corruption. The tensions escalated in October when former Prime Minister and Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha was charged with corruption and money laundering offenses. Berisha claimed that the charges were “purely and entirely political.” Since then, the protests have gathered pace, with physical clashes occurring in the parliamentary chamber and MPs being told to work online.
In this latest protest, the MPs were seen piling chairs in the center of the chamber and deploying a series of red, green and purple smoke bombs as Rama took his seat to vote on the budget. The chamber was filled with smoke and a small fire broke out in the fourth row of seats, which was quickly doused. The vote went through quickly, and Rama later said on X that the protesters had “introduced the vocabulary and manners of the street into politics” and that they were “sowing strife, chaos, violence and reaping loss.”
In a statement to reporters, Berisha said that his party wanted to bring pluralism to parliament and that they would continue protests until an investigative commission to probe corruption allegations against Rama is established.