Opposition MPs in Albania throw smoke bombs in parliament

Tirana (AFP) –


Albanian lawmakers from the rightwing opposition on Monday threw smoke bombs into a hall of parliament to protest the election by the ruling socialists of a new attorney general.

Before the vote, rightwing opposition leader Lulzim Basha had criticised socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama for wanting to appoint a "puppet" to follow his commands.

The accusation comes amid an investigation into Saimir Tahiri, a close ally of Rama's and until March Albania's interior minister, who is accused of having links to international cannabis trafficking.

Opposition MPs tried in vain Monday to stop the proceedings, but Arta Marku was eventually sworn in as interim attorney general as smoke still filled the room.

Marku's appointment "is a constitutional violation and can lead to a destabilisation of the country," Basha had said Sunday night.

He said the job of naming a new attorney general should fall to the prosecutor's office high council, as a plan to reform the current law, which has not yet been voted on, has laid out.

Rama "is asking us to violate the constitution because he wants an attorney general under his thumb," Basha added.

Marku is due to fill the role for the next two to three months, or until a new prosecution high council has been created.

Several thousand activists also protested outside parliament, chanting: "Rama, go away!" Some demonstrators tried to enter the cordoned-off building, which led to stampedes.