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.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
i100
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?