TIRANA (Reuters) - Thousands of opposition supporters protested outside the Albanian prime minister’s office on Thursday to call for the resignation of the speaker of parliament after accusations that he tried to have two lawmakers killed.
The speaker, Ilir Meta, has denied all wrongdoing and has said the allegations are politically motivated.
Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama and several other officials have been spoken to by prosecutors about the alleged plot, but none have been charged with any crime. Rama has said prosecutors will only shed light on a “nasty soap opera”.
Lawmaker Tom Doshi made the allegations about the plot publicly in a video 10 days ago, saying a contract killer had been hired to shoot him and another member of parliament.
He was disciplined by his ruling Socialists when he criticised Rama over promises he said were not kept to Doshi’s base in the north, and is considered to be expelled by the party. Doshi said he first told Rama of the plot six months ago.
“This story has been cooked up for political gain after the Socialist Party expelled Mr Tom Doshi,” Meta said on Tuesday.
Opposition protesters filled the boulevard in front of Rama’s office, shouting “crime” and holding placards calling on Meta to resign.
While the Albanian public have been following every twist and turn of the fallout from Doshi’s bombshell, the issue has so far not become a rallying point for the public.
The opposition Democratic Party, however, has seized on the chance to try to weaken the Socialist government that ended its eight-year rule in June 2013 after joining forces with Meta’s small party.
“We declare ... our full support to the prosecutors and judiciary, and ask them to shed light on the most serious accusations in the history of democracy,” Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha said.
The opposition protest was peaceful, as was a smaller counter protest in support of Meta half a mile away.
Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Alison Williams