Leader of Albania’s main opposition Democratic party resigns

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The leader of Albanian’s main opposition party resigned Monday from the post following divisive infighting.

Lulzim Basha said he had decided to resign as chairman of the Democratic Party “in order to assist in the resurrection and the unity of the Democrats.”

Basha’s firing of former party leader Sali Berisha from the parliamentary group in September sparked an internal party fight between them. Berisha created a group seeking to remove Basha from the post, accusing him of being a “hostage” of Prime Minister Edi Rama of the left-wing Socialist Party.

In January the center-right Democratic Party supporters clashed with each other as they tried to storm their party headquarters.

Basha followed Berisha in the post when the latter resigned in 2013 after losing the parliamentary election.

Earlier this month, the divided Democrats lost overwhelmingly in early elections in six municipalities. It was Basha’s latest loss in the nine years he has led the Democrats.

Basha’s move against Berisha followed an intervention in May by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who designated Berisha and his close family members as persona non grata for “corrupt acts that undermined democracy in Albania” during Berisha’s 2005-2013 tenure as prime minister.

Washington also has made it clear it would not cooperate with Albania’s Democratic Party if it was led by Berisha.

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