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Opposition supporters clash with police in northern Albania

June 20, 2019

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police on Thursday used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters trying to prevent Prime Minister Edi Rama from holding an election campaign meeting in the northern city of Shkodra.

Opposition supporters, led by Shkodra Mayor Voltana Ademi, hurled stones and other objects at police, who responded with tear gas. Some of the protesters were injured and taken away by ambulance.

The opposition is boycotting the local elections planned for June 30 and has threatened to disrupt them. On Wednesday, opposition supporters damaged ballot boxes and documents in 14 districts managed by their parties in an effort to prevent the municipal elections.

The United States called on Albanian opposition “to peacefully protest while holding accountable those who engage in violence ... while allowing their fellow citizens to do the same.”

Though the two opposing political groupings held their protest and rally not far from each other, there was no incident or friction between them.

Albania’s Socialist-led government insists that voting will go ahead as scheduled, while the opposition is planning a national protest on Friday.

The U.S. embassy statement also called on organizers of the demonstration “to hold themselves accountable to these same principles, to publicly appeal to their supporters to assemble peacefully, and to vigorously reject violence at every opportunity.”

Albania’s opposition has been holding anti-government protests since mid-February. All have turned violent with their supporters hurling projectiles against police, who have responded with tear gas.

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Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini

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