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Albanian anti-govt protesters try to storm parliament

Published
A protester pushes a gate amid smoke from teargas during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday to protest the government, which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.

Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition gathered on the capital's main boulevard in front of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama's office to demand his resignation. Rama later called the protest "immature" and said it does not help Albania's progress toward European Union membership.

Protesters, led by Democratic leader Lulzim Basha, then walked to the parliament building and tried to break through police lines while throwing smoke bombs and other objects. Police dispersed them with tear gas and water cannons.

Police said three officers and some demonstrators were injured.

The opposition, whose lawmakers have relinquished their seats in parliament, declines to speak with Rama. It has asked for a transitory Cabinet without him to prepare for an early election. The governing Socialists now have 74 seats in the 140-seat parliament.

"We have no alternative but to protest until we bring back democracy and rule of law," Basha told The Associated Press before the rally.

President Ilir Meta urged the opposition to protest peacefully. The U.S. and the EU have warned the opposition not to incite violence and urged them to sit down for talks with the government.

Speaking on a tour ahead of local elections in June, the prime minister said his governing majority "has got the trust of the majority of the population."

"Such kind of convulsions, blockings, obstacles and signs of immaturity ... do not make easy our road toward our European partners," Rama said of the protests, speaking from the city of Berat, 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tirana, the capital.

Albania hopes to get the EU's approval in June to launch membership negotiations.

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

Protesters gather outside the Prime Minister's office during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
A protester raises a banner in front of a police formation during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Policemen line up outside the Prime Minister's office ahead of an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. The center-right opposition Democratic party demands the government's resignation, accusing the Cabinet of corruption and opposition lawmakers have relinquished their seats in parliament and they have rejected calls for dialogue from Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and from the U.S. and European Union. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at policemen during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters hold an Albanian flag during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters take part in an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. The banner reads :
Protesters hold an Albanian flag during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
Protesters take part in an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
A protester crosses the fence of the parliament as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters carry a wounded person as riot police throw shock bombs and tear gas at stone throwing protesters in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester throws a smoke bomb at police guarding the government building as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester wearing a mask walks near police guarding the parliament building, as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at riot police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at riot police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters hit back tear gas canisters thrown by police, as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters scuffle with police guarding the parliament building as thousands of opposition supporter try to storm in during a protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters waving an Albanian flag shout slogans near the government building during a protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters clash with police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters clash with police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters clash with police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at riot police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at riot police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester raises a banner in front of a police formation during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
A protester raises a banner in front of a police formation during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Policemen line up outside the Prime Minister's office ahead of an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. The center-right opposition Democratic party demands the government's resignation, accusing the Cabinet of corruption and opposition lawmakers have relinquished their seats in parliament and they have rejected calls for dialogue from Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and from the U.S. and European Union. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Policemen line up outside the Prime Minister's office ahead of an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. The center-right opposition Democratic party demands the government's resignation, accusing the Cabinet of corruption and opposition lawmakers have relinquished their seats in parliament and they have rejected calls for dialogue from Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and from the U.S. and European Union. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters take part in an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters take part in an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters gather outside the Prime Minister's office during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
Protesters gather outside the Prime Minister's office during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
A protester throws a smoke bomb at police guarding the government building as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester throws a smoke bomb at police guarding the government building as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters scuffle with police guarding the parliament building as thousands of opposition supporter try to storm in during a protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters scuffle with police guarding the parliament building as thousands of opposition supporter try to storm in during a protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters hit back tear gas canisters thrown by police, as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters hit back tear gas canisters thrown by police, as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at riot police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters throw stones at riot police as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester pushes a gate amid smoke from teargas during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
A protester pushes a gate amid smoke from teargas during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters hold an Albanian flag during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
Protesters hold an Albanian flag during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
Protesters waving an Albanian flag shout slogans near the government building during a protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters waving an Albanian flag shout slogans near the government building during a protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters carry a wounded person as riot police throw shock bombs and tear gas at stone throwing protesters in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters carry a wounded person as riot police throw shock bombs and tear gas at stone throwing protesters in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester wearing a mask walks near police guarding the parliament building, as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester wearing a mask walks near police guarding the parliament building, as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters take part in an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. The banner reads :
Protesters take part in an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. The banner reads : "End of the government of thieves and oligarchs" . (AP Photo/ Hektor Pustina)
Protesters hold an Albanian flag during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters hold an Albanian flag during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Thousands of supporters of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition have gathered on Saturday in front of Socialist Party's Prime Minister Edi Rama to demand his resignation, a transitory Cabinet without him that will prepare fresh elections. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters throw stones at policemen during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Protesters throw stones at policemen during an anti-government rally in Tirana, Albania, Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
A protester crosses the fence of the parliament as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A protester crosses the fence of the parliament as thousands of opposition supporters protest in Tirana, Albania on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Albanian opposition supporters clashed with police while trying to storm the parliament building Saturday in a protest against the government which they accuse of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)