TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Thousands of Albanian opposition supporters on Saturday protested the country’s cost-of-living crisis, blaming it on the center-left government.
Opposition supporters gathered in front of the main government building, shouting that Prime Minister Edi Rama of the ruling Socialist Party should resign.
The protest was mostly peaceful but at the end some broke the police line and sprayed red paint on the main doors of the government building. Others lit candles to memorize two people killed by police in the last years.
Police intervened and at least one protester was taken away.
Albania has seen an 8% price hike this year, especially for basic food and fuel following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Opposition supporters have also blamed Rama for the thousands of young men who leave the country each year in search of a better life.
Rama says his Cabinet has kept inflation low compared to double-digit inflation elsewhere in Europe, and has noted that government subsidizes electricity for families and small businesses.
The protest was organized by the opposition center-right Democratic Party and attended by its leader Sali Berisha, a 78-year-old former president and prime minister, and former President Ilir Meta, now leader of the leftist Freedom Party.
Albania holds a municipal election in May.
Berisha called on Albanians to support the opposition, which has pledged to double wages and pensions if it gets back into power.
But his party has been plagued by infighting after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last year barred Berisha and his close relatives from entering the U.S. for “corrupt acts that undermined democracy” during his 2005-2013 tenure as prime minister.