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Albanian Times, 96-05-24

The Albanian Times (by AlbAmerica TRade & Consulting International) Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: AlbAmerica Trade & Consulting International <http://www.worldweb.net/~ww1054/>

Albanian Times
May 24, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] Police Arrests Suspected Rally Killers
  • [02] Albanian Socialists Eye Win
  • [03] Mudslinging marks Albanian election campaign
  • [04] INIMA Starts Computer Data Processing and Programming Courses
  • [05] USIA Representative Arrives in Prishtina

  • [01] Police Arrests Suspected Rally Killers

    TIRANA, May 23 - Police in Durres has arrested 10 persons suspected of instigating a protest that disrupted a planned campaign rally of the opposition Socialist Party in the city. In a press briefing in Tirana on Thursday, the Vice Minister of the Interior, General Agim Shehu said the persons tried to disrupt the rally on Wednesday, which was finally cancelled despite the police intervention. The official assured the political parties that police is committed to guarantee the necessary calm for the holding of free elections scheduled for May 26. He also denounced by name elements of the former secret police, the Sigurimi, for engaging in what he called "unlawful, anti-constitutional activities. On Wednesday, Socialist supporters going to the Durres rally were attacked by hundreds of young men chanting anti-communist slogans. After the arrival of the party leaders from Tirana, the crowd tried to assault their vehicles but were repelled by the police. The rally, in a covered sports palace at the city ce nter was interrupted shortly after it began due to a power shortage believed to have been caused by the protesting youths. (Albanian Times)

    [02] Albanian Socialists Eye Win

    TIRANA, May 23 - Socialist leaders told several thousand supporters Thursday that popular discontent with corruption and abuse of power among President Sali Berisha's Democrats will power them to victory in parliamentary elections.

    Elections Sunday will determine whether the Democrats, who took power in 1992 as Albania ended decades of harsh Communist rule, can hang on to it.

    Results are difficult to predict. Polls in Albania are infrequent and unreliable.

    Albania still is among the poorest countries in Europe, but the economy has grown steadily in recent years.

    That will help the Democrats in elections for the 140-seat parliament, but the Democrats are dogged by charges that they inhibit media freedom and harass their opponents.

    Up to 5,000 supporters of the Socialists, Albania's reformed Communists, cheered Thursday at the party's wrapup rally in the capital.

    Some held posters of party leader Fatos Nano, who has been in jail since 1993 on charges of misappropriating humanitarian aid and falsifying documents.

    ``Most of the Albanian people are now convinced that the Democratic Party has abused the chance that was given them in 1992,'' declared Servet Pellumbi, a deputy party leader.

    Pellumbi himself cannot run in the elections because of a law that bans former Communist officials from public office up to the year 2002.

    The rally was held in an empty soccer field surrounded by battered apartment buildings because officials refused permission for it to be held in central Skanderbeg Square, named after a 15th century national hero.

    The crowd waved red Albanian flags, and red Socialist banners.

    ``I am sure the Socialist Party will win, and with your loyalty we will establish a real democracy,'' declared Gramoz Ruci, a top party official.

    The crowd chanted, ``Down with dictatorship!'' and ``Tirana is with you!''

    Democrats won 92 seats in the 1992 election. They have lost seven to defections since then, but still command an absolute majority.

    They argue that Albania can only continue its rapid development if they win again, and that Western European countries stand behind them. They charge that electing the Socialists would cut this country of 3.2 million people off from the rest of the world, as it was for decades of Communist rule.

    Democrats hold their final rally for Tirana on Friday. Berisha, who was elected by parliament and has one more year to serve, has campaigned hard for his party. But he must be mindful that despite a heavy media campaign in the fall of 1994, he lost a referendum on a new constitution that many regarded as a vote on his leadership. (Albanian Times/The Associated Press)

    [03] Mudslinging marks Albanian election campaign

    TIRANA, May 22 - Mudslinging ahead of Albania's third free general elections overshadowed political debate Wednesday as the main rivals accused each other of inciting violence throughout the monthlong campaign.

    The Socialist Party, Albania's strongest opposition group, said the ruling Democratic Party was trying to manipulate the election outcome by allegedly harrassing Socialist supporters and disrupting the party's campaign.

    But President Sali Berisha's Democrats firmly denied any repression of the opposition and blamed the reformed communists for the violence that has characterized the run-up to the poll.

    ``The violence is proof of a plan to cling to power by all means, frightening people and creating a situation suitable to manipulate the results of the polls,'' senior Socialist Luan Hajdaraga told reporters.

    Hajdaraga was referring to several reports of alleged police attacks on Socialist supporters, including severe beatings and detention at police stations.

    Albert Brojka, a top Democratic Party official, accused the Socialists -- heirs of former dictator Enver Hoxha's communists -- of stirring up the violence and blaming it on the government to justify what he predicted would be an opposition defeat.

    ``Most of the incidents are provocations by Socialist elements, units of the (former communist) secret police which are trying to create a tense environment,'' Brojka said.

    Although candidates from over 20 parties are standing for office, the elections will be a showdown between the Democrats and Socialists.

    Berisha's party, which has ruled since its landslide victory over the Socialists in 1992, is leading in public opinion polls with about 38 percent support against the Socialists' 20 percent. The Democrats are campaigning on a fiercely anti-communist, pro-free market platform.

    At a mass rally in the southern city of Berat Tuesday, Berisha urged voters to back his party to ensure continued economic growth rather than risk financial despair through what he called the ``state control'' of his Socialist rivals.

    ``In the past four years we have built our freedom and marched toward Europe with a pace unequaled in the past 400 years,'' Berisha told 10,000 cheering supporters.

    The president has held up to 12 rallies a day in his bid to secure a continued majority in parliament. He has principally sought to woo voters with pledges of improved infrastructure and greater prosperity to ensure Albania will no longer be Europe's poorest country.

    The Socialists, whose leader Fatos Nano is in jail on charges of embezzlement, are struggling to shake off the communists' dark past and present themselves as a viable alternative to the Democrats. (Courtesy of Reuters)

    [04] INIMA Starts Computer Data Processing and Programming Courses

    TIRANA, May 23 - The Institute of Information Science and Applied Mathematics (INIMA) in Tirana has launched a complex project aimed at training data processing specialists in a 2 year period. An initial program will employ hundreds of Albanian young girls who will deal with storing of land registry data in preprogrammed computers. A second phase will consist in creating a new Albanian generation of computer programmers through courses that will be attended by 60 computer specialists. The project is a joint effort between INIMA and an Italian consorcium. (Albanian Times)

    [05] USIA Representative Arrives in Prishtina

    WASHINGTON, May 22 - A representative of the United States Information Agency arrived Wednesday in Kosova's capital, Prishtina to make arrangements for the opening of a U.S. office in early June. Mr. Michael McClellan was appointed by the U.S. State Departament earlier this month and is the first ever U.S. representative to permanenty reside in the troubled Kosova region. The move is seen as a sign of U.S. support for Kosova Albanians who by far outnumber the Serbs in the province. The United States has vowed to maintain the outer wall sanctions against Belgrade until the human rights for the Albanian population are fully respected. Mr. McClellan was accompanied by Dr. Elizabeth Bonkowsky, Second Secretary of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. The U.S. office in Prishtina is expected to open in early June. (Albanian Times)

    This material was reprinted with permission of AlbAmerica Trade & Consulting International. For more information on ATCI and the Albanian Times, please write to AlbaTimes@aol.com

    Copyright © ATCI, 1996


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