Albanian opposition blocks roads in anti-government protest

Albania’s opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha, center, said: ‘The government should give to Albanians the prospect of a government that serves them and not a group of oligarchs,’ during a demonstration in Vora. (Reuters))
Updated 05 April 2018
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Albanian opposition blocks roads in anti-government protest

  • Conservative Democratic Party-led opposition boycotted Thursday’s parliamentary session to launch a “civil disobedience” campaign.
  • Opposition supporters gathered at four junctions across the country, blocking traffic and calling for Prime Minister Edi Rama’s resignation.
TIRANA: Albania’s opposition on Thursday blocked the country’s main highway junctions in an anti-government protest, accusing officials of links to organized crime and of increasing both taxes and poverty.
The conservative Democratic Party-led opposition boycotted Thursday’s parliamentary session to launch a “civil disobedience” campaign, blocking traffic and calling on people not to pay increased taxes.
Hundreds of opposition supporters gathered at four junctions across the country, blocking traffic and calling for Prime Minister Edi Rama’s resignation.
Miles of vehicles were seen at a standstill on the Tirana to Durres highway and at the other three junctions. Only emergency vehicles were allowed through until the roads reopened some two hours later.
Democrat leader Lulzim Basha said Cabinet should remove a road toll and value-added tax on small businesses, and reinstate economic assistance to 30,000 families.
“The government should give to Albanians the prospect of a government that serves them and not a group of oligarchs, putting behind bars the people and releasing the criminals,” he said.
Police said they didn’t receive any protest requests and considered the gatherings illegal.
The opposition has the support of angry residents of the northeastern district of Kukes, who last weekend burned down toll booths and scuffled with police to protest against high tariffs for the country’s first toll road.
The prime minister was determined that the toll road should begin operating soon, adding that the country was paying $42 million (€34 million) every year for the credit used to build that road segment.
The Democrats suffered a landslide loss in last year’s vote, securing only 43 seats in the 140-seat parliament.
Albania, a NATO member since 2009, was granted EU candidate status in 2014 and hopes to launch negotiations this year.
Knut Fleckenstein, a European Parliament lawmaker who was on a two-day visit to the country, said the European Parliament expected from Brussels “a clear not conditional proposal for opening the negotiations with Albania now.”


Pakistan’s top court grants bail to former PM Sharif on medical grounds

Updated 26 March 2019
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Pakistan’s top court grants bail to former PM Sharif on medical grounds

  • Nawaz Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose his source of income to acquire Al-Azizia Steel Mills

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to release former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on bail for six weeks to receive medical treatment but said he would not be allowed to leave the country.
Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.
The case was heard by a three-judge panel headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The three-time former premier has been suffering from a heart condition and kidney problems and has been admitted to hospital. A previous bail appeal was rejected last month.
The Supreme Court removed Sharif from office in July 2017 for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son’s company and he was later convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income.
In one of those cases, over the ownership of upmarket properties in London, the high court granted him bail last September, suspending a 10-year sentence until a final decision on his appeal against the conviction.
The appeal process in both cases is continuing.
Sharif has termed the charges against him politically motivated and accused the military and courts of working together to end his political career and destabilize his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.