Opposition lawmakers in Albania have thrown smoke bombs inside parliament to disrupt a session for the appointment of an interim prosecutor general, which they said was unconstitutional.
Albanian opposition MPs on Monday threw smoke grenades into the parliament chamber to protest the election of Arta Marku with 69 votes out of 76 by the ruling Socialist Party.
The move to stop the election, however, was in vain as Marku was eventually sworn in as temporary prosecutor general.
Opposition legislators claimed that parliament was not entitled to elect an interim prosecutor general and should wait for the creation of a permanent commission to do that.
They also argued that a prosecutor should be installed once some 800 judges and prosecutors are vetted and elected with three-fifths of votes in parliament.
Rightwing opposition leader Lulzim Basha censured socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama before the Monday parliament session for appointing a “puppet” to follow his commands.
Basha said Marku’s appointment “is a constitutional violation and can lead to the destabilization of the country.”
During his speech in parliament, Basha also warned the Albanian prime minister against a constitutional “putsch” in an effort to protect corrupt officials, including his former interior minister.
“You have decided to violate the Constitution to protect your wealth. This is the last moment that I ask you in the name of the Constitution to withdraw. This is the command of the people. Obey it or face the consequences,” the opposition leader said.
While the 41-year-old prosecutor general was taking oath of office in front of the Albanian lawmakers, several thousand activists and supporters of opposition parties Democratic Party (DP) and Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) were protesting outside the cordoned-off parliament building.
Albanian police clashed with opposition supporters trying to force their way into the building, with local media reporting that a number of people had been injured.
Marku is due to fill the vacant position of prosecutor general for the next two or three months until a new prosecution high council has been created.
Marku’s appointment is supported by the European Union and the US, as the move paves the way for judicial reforms needed for the country’s bid to launch EU membership negotiations.
Albania was granted EU candidate status in 2014 and hopes to launch negotiations next year.