TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Former Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha on Thursday called on citizens to arm themselves, saying the government is failing to confront crime.
Speaking at the weekly parliamentary session, Berisha accused the government of links to crime gangs and said there is no public order or security.
Berisha also called for a new law to allow weapons possession. Gun ownership is currently illegal in Albania and calls to break the law could result in a 10-year jail sentence.
"I call on them to get armed," Berisha said. Addressing the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama, he added: "If you as a criminal organization think of terrorizing the opposition and the citizens, I guarantee that the opposition and the citizens are ready to turn to you with all means so that you find no hole to get in."
The recent arrest of the leader of a criminal gang has led both political sides to accuse the other of receiving assistance from criminals, especially during electoral campaigns.
Berisha stepped down as prime minister in 2013 after his center-right Democratic Party was defeated in parliamentary elections.
A dozen governing Socialist lawmakers asked the parliament leadership to suspend Berisha from participating in the sessions for 10 days.
In 1997 Berisha, then the country's president, was ousted following a popular revolt and months of almost anarchy after people lost their life savings in failed pyramid investment schemes. Almost all army depots were looted and many of those weapons can still be found underground in Albania, a NATO member since 2009.