Albania Parties Feud Over Tirana Shootouts

Prime Minister Edi Rama's office on Wednesday denied allegations by an opposition MP, accusing the centre-left government of protecting crime gangs in the country.

Rama's office announced that it would pursue MP Edi Paloka for slander in the courts.

“Paloka should provide proof for what he says, and if such proof appears, Prime Minister Rama is ready to resign,” the statement said.

The political row follows a spate of deadly incidents in Albania. One man was killed and four others were injured, including a police officer, in two separate shootouts on Monday in the capital Tirana. 

Emiljano Shullazi, who was been arrested multiple times for illegal gun and drugs possessions, was injured along with his friend, Gilmando Dani, in one of the attacks on the highway from Tirana to Mother Teresa International Airport.

The chief of police of Tirana, Ardian Çipa, on Wednesday said the two shootouts were not related, adding that police did not have enough facts to charge Shullazi. For that reason, Shullazi has been left at liberty.

Paloka's accusations touch a raw nerve in Albania where the political elites are often accused of flirting with criminals during elections, to bully voters or otherwise manipulate the results.

Several newspapers in Tirana on Thursday recalled that Shullazi was arrested in 2011 after being accused by two Socialist Party MPs of attacking one of their campaign meetings.

The two MPs then claimed that the alleged gangster was working to support the electoral campaign of the Democratic Party.