TIRANA, Albania — Rifts opened in President Sali Berisha's right-wing party Friday, aggravating the crisis in lawless Albania as it prepares for deployment of an Italian-led security force of up to 6,000 troops.
About 20 Democratic Party parliament members said they will no longer "accept the diktat of the president" and accused Berisha of seizing too much power.
Their statement was the strongest criticism yet of Berisha from his own ranks since unrest broke out in the nation last month.
The political infighting adds to the problems faced by the U.N.-approved force that is to be deployed to Albania to protect food and medical supplies. The Italian Foreign Ministry has said it expects to begin deployment April 14.
Rebels seized southern Albania after an uprising last month and are demanding the resignation of Berisha, who is blamed for the collapse of pyramid savings schemes that sparked the unrest.
The breakaway lawmakers stopped short of a formal split with their party, saying a solution to Albania's woes "exists within the program of the Democratic Party."
A new general election is due to be held in June.
Berisha's party won 122 seats in the 140-seat parliament in elections last year and would retain control even without the 20 dissenters. The Socialist Party of former Communists has long accused Berisha and his allies of authoritarianism and of fixing last year's vote.
Democratic Party Chairman Tritan Shehu criticized the new splinter group. He accused the group of trying to "stay away, or worse, pull out of their parliamentary group and blame others for something for which they should be responsible."
But former Deputy Prime Minister Dashamir Shehi, a leader of the splinter Democratic group, said: "The greatest part of the blame for the crisis lies with him [Berisha].
"This is a huge crisis, the worst we have faced, because it is economic, political, moral, a crisis of faith in the institutions," he told Italian television.