EU urges Albania's opposition to hold peaceful protests

The European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have called on Albania's opposition to avoid violence in its protests and to hold talks resolve the country's political deadlock.

The center-right Democratic Party-led opposition is staging a protest Saturday, demanding that Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama resign and a transitory Cabinet hold an early election.

The protests, which have been going on since mid-February, have turned violent, with opposition supporters showering police officers with firebombs and police responding with tear gas.

The opposition accuses the Cabinet of corruption and links to organized crime. The governing Socialists deny those claims and say the violent protests are hurting the country's image.

In June, Albania expects the EU to grant its request to launch full membership negotiations.