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Albanian police: planned rally threatens security

Albanian police: planned rally threatens security

Albanian police say they cannot be blamed if more violence erupts at a new anti-government protest planned for Friday, a week after three opposition supporters were shot dead when a similar rally in the capital turned violent.
The forthcoming opposition Socialist protest is "a threat to national security, public order, crime prevention and human rights," a police statement Thursday said.
More than 150 protesters and security officers were injured in last week's deadly clashes, at a rally by former Tirana mayor Edi Rama's Socialist party outside a main government building. The Socialists are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sali Berisha's government for alleged corruption, following months of simmering tension over contested national elections.
Despite international calls for restraint, Rama's party insists on going ahead with the new demonstration, in which Socialist officials and lawmakers plan to lay flowers where the three protesters died.
An Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press that police cannot be blamed if new violence erupts. "The opposition should take care of itself and the gathering, of its participants," the official said, on condition of anonymity due to the tense situation. "Police cannot be held accountable for people going out of control like last Friday."
European Union and US officials have urged restraint from the Socialists and the governing Democrats, who agreed to cancel a protest of their own scheduled for Saturday.
On Thursday, a representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's chairman-in-office visited Tirana to try and defuse the political crisis. Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Evaldas Ignatavicius, whose country holds the OSCE chairmanship, will meet Berisha, Rama and President Bamir Topi.
EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak met Albania's political leaders Wednesday and appealed for calm. Tensions have been mounting for months between the Democrats and the Socialists, and rose sharply this month when the country's deputy prime minister, Ilir Meta, resigned over allegations he tried to influence a state tender for a hydro power plant.