Albanian opposition in new turmoil amid protests, court decision

Albanian opposition in new turmoil amid protests, court decision |

Tirana’s Court of Appeals overturned an earlier court decision that recognised former prime minister and co-founder of the Democratic Party Sali Berisha as its legal leader, sending the case for reconsideration at a later date and causing uncertainty just two months before local elections.

The centre-right PD split into two groups in 2021 after the expulsion of Berisha by at-the-time chairman Lulzim Basha after the former was sanctioned by the US State Department and then the UK.

A tense standoff followed, with both Berisha and Basha trying to take leadership of the party, which led to a violent protest at the party headquarters on 8 January 2022.

Basha ultimately resigned, and Berisha assumed the role of chairman, after which a court of first instance ruled that his takeover was legal, a decision that has now been overturned.

Enkelejd Alibeaj heads one faction of the divided PD, while Berisha holds the chairmanship.

The appeals court was tasked with clarifying who has the right to use the party logo in the local elections, scheduled for 14 May. According to the court decision, Alibeaj can run candidates under the PD logo similarly to the March 2022 byelections, where Berisha’s candidates had to run under a House of Freedom coalition in partnership with the Freedom party led by former President Ilir Meta.

Opposition representatives from the Berisha faction denounced the ruling as “an end of political pluralism.”

“Whatever treachery they try, my name will be on the ballot,” said Belind Kellici, the winner of primary elections to represent the Berisha-led PD as a candidate for mayor of Tirana.

Meanwhile, Berisha held a large protest in Tirana on Friday, where he called for the overthrow of the government. Thousands of protestors gathered on the main boulevard outside government buildings, holding banners and chanting slogans.

Berisha called on his supporters to “Join us in this revolution to throw down this criminal organisation (the government) and save Albania and its citizens.”

The upcoming elections will be crucial as the opposition boycotted the 2019 vote leaving the ruling Socialist Party to govern almost every municipality for the last four years.

In 2019, before the last local elections, similar opposition-led protests took place, resulting in attempts to enter the prime minister’s office, widespread arrests, and the use of tear gas.

Current polls suggest that Berisha’s faction enjoys more support than Alibeaj’s, but they will struggle against the undivided Socialist Party.

(Alice Taylor |


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