Albanian PM Urged To Quit On Anniversary Of Blast Tragedy

TIRANA, Albania (AFP)–Several thousand Albanians demonstrated in the center of Tirana on Sunday to voice their anger at the government one year on from an explosion at an army munitions which killed 26 people.

The protesters denounced the “state corruption” and chanted they would “never forget” as they recalled the massive blast at the depot in the Tirana satellite town of Gerdec, which also wounded more than 300 and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes.

Hundreds of people also marched from Gerdec to Tirana, a distance of around 10 kilometers (seven miles) in homage to the victims.

Opposition parties who joined in the protests reiterated their calls for Prime Minister Sali Berisha to resign over the disaster.

“Berisha is the one responsible for this tragedy. He must go,” said Ilir Meta, leader of the Movement for Socialist Integration.

Although Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu did stand down in its aftermath, Berisha toughed it out and he accused the opposition on Sunday of seeking to exploit the tragedy for political ends.

Several thousand tons of arms and munitions were being stored at Gerdec, where they were waiting to be destroyed by American-Albanian contractors.

Destroying the old munitions – many of which date back to the communist era – is one of the conditions Albania must fulfill to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

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