Rebels band together to demand talks

Even as a second day of talks on the make-up of a caretaker government continued in Tirana yesterday, rebellious civilians in southern Albania moved to shore up the substantial gains of the uprising.

For the first time since the crisis began in January, the unrest reached the capital, with shots fired at assailants who broke into Tirana's military academy. The towns of Saranda, Gjirokaster, Tepelena, Berat and Kucove announced the formation of a national salvation committee, and are demanding a seat at the talks in Tirana and a role in the new government.

A separate committee for Vlora, cradle of the uprising, has been promised a place in the administration. The appointment of Bashkim Fino, an opposition Socialist from Gjirokaster, as prime minister may be a significant step but has done nothing to satisfy the rebels' main demands: the resignation of President Sali Berisha and repayment of money lost in corrupt investment schemes.

"We are trying to co-ordinate all our activities and operations on the political level," said Abaz Gorani, deputy chairman of the Kucove committee. "We will also have a military side, to co-ordinate our actions if soldiers or supporters of Berisha attack. We do respect Bashkim Fino," he continued, "but we are not happy with any of the political parties. We do not believe in any of them."

The issue at present for the politicians negotiating in Tirana is which party is to control the powerful Interior Ministry and the Shik secret police.

In "rebel" territory, immediate concerns are to restore order and strengthen defences. Gunmen along the main road south to Kucove - where locals seized 23 elderly MiGs - and the town of Berat have built road-blocks in the past 24 hours. In Berat the new police chief, Ilir Helmesi, asked citizens to surrender weapons looted from the military, but few responded.

Miltiadh Vevecka, a doctor at Berat hospital, said: "Only a few guns have been turned in, mostly by people who didn't know how to use them and who therefore damaged them," He was trying to answer the question vexing diplomats and journalists: how to bridge the gap between party members talking in Tirana and the armed citizens who proclaim disdain of all politicians. "The towns' salvation committees will win credibility for the way they restore order, by stopping thieves and the like," Dr Vevecka said. "The new government will win credibility if the national salvation committee is part of it."

But security must first be assured at a domestic level. In the village of Ardonice, between two government-controlled towns, men raided a camp for weapons, with what seemed to be army collusion.

Soldiers told us they would not fight if attacked; half an hour later, they were. They took cover in an olive grove, leaving the Shik and traffic police to mount a counter-attack. The two parties exchanged fire, though it was inaccurate, or aimed at the sky. Within 15 minutes it seemed honour had been satisfied, and the police pulled back, apparently having driven off the interlopers.

In Tirana, television cameraman filmed three men walking from the military academy with rifles and ammunition. A few shots sent passers-by running, but the relaxed bearing of the thieves, in a city policed under a state of emergency, led locals to conclude they were Democratic Party activists. Mr Berisha will need their help if he is to survive the crisis.

So far, none of his concessions has made much impression in the south. "First, we want our money back," said Mr Gorani, asked what would end the revolt. "Second, we want Sali Berisha to resign and to be put on trial. Third, we want Albanian state radio and television to start telling the truth. Four, we want the Shik to behave properly." It is a list that may spell the end for Sali Berisha.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition