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Opposition Supporters Clash With Police In Albanian Capital

A supporter of the opposition holds a burning banner during a protest outside the Albanian parliament in Tirana on March 5.

Opposition supporters and police have clashed in the Albanian capital of Tirana during an antigovernment protest.

Scuffles broke out when protesters tried to storm the parliament building on March 16 while throwing smoke bombs and other objects at police, who answered with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The protesters accuse the government of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama of being corrupt and linked to organized crime.

The opposition, led by the center-right Democratic Party, refuses to speak with Rama. They are demanding a transitory cabinet without him to prepare early elections.

Earlier, protesters threw smoke bombs and flares behind the police lines outside the prime minister's office, and many shouted "Rama go!"

President Ilir Meta, who is on a visit in Azerbaijan, called on the opposition to protest "peacefully."

The United States and European Union have warned the opposition against using or inciting violence and to sit down for talks.

Albania is hoping to get EU approval in June to begin membership talks.

Based on reporting by AP