Using the cover of the coronavirus lockdown, a political elite sees an opportunity to bulldoze the opposition.
For more than two years actors, activists and the opposition contested plans by Prime Minister Edi Rama to build a new theatre, saying the existing building was part of the country's heritage.
Leaders of Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania - all Western Balkan countries blighted by wars in the 1990s that also aspire to join the European Union - met in the Albanian capital Tirana to give shape to the idea.
The 6.4-magnitude quake, the country's worst-ever, struck on Tuesday, killing 51 people and leaving nearly 5,000 people homeless.
At least 47 victims were rescued alive, officials said, but the number of people who may still be buried amid rubble remains unknown.
Albanian President Ilir Meta moved to cancel the elections saying they would be undemocratic without the opposition, but the Prime Minister Edi Rama refused to do so.
Opposition, supported by the country's president, boycotted the local polls over its claims of government corruption but Prime Minister Edi Rama's government is pressing ahead.
Albania has managed to burnish its image thanks to media-savvy politicians but the reality is far more problematic.
Parliament debates a no-confidence motion against Albania's President Ilir Meta after he canceled the June 30 municipal elections.
The center-right Democratic Party-led opposition supporters gathered at the main government building accusing center-left Socialist Party Prime Minister Edi Rama of corruption and links to organised crime.
With Albania finding itself in the midst of a deepening political and social crisis, is there any way out of it?
Thousands of protesters supporting Albania's opposition surrounded the parliament, demanding the government's resignation and early elections and accusing the Cabinet of corruption and crime links.
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