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Albanian Times, 96-05-26

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 26, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] Albanians Set to Vote in Right-Left Poll Tussle
  • [02] Kadare Denies Working For Former Secret Police
  • [03] Berisha Opens Albania's First Mobile Phone Net
  • [04] Albanian political rivals recruit the famous
  • [05] Who's Who In The Election
  • [06] Albania's Berisha Heads Worried Democrat Campaign
  • [07] 3 Albania Communists Get Death

  • [01] Albanians Set to Vote in Right-Left Poll Tussle

    TIRANA, May 26 - A month-long campaign marred by intimidation and violence between Albania's ruling conservatives and the main Socialist opposition climaxes on Sunday when the ex-communist state holds its third free general election. The fiercely pro-market Democrats, seeking a second consecutive term of office, were not expected to match their 62 percent landslide victory in 1992 in the last election. The Socialists, campaigning to regain the power they lost four years ago in Europe's most impoverished state, pledged to push economic reform but with a kinder social face. About 50 officials of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and observers from the European Union and the United States were taking up positions in towns across the country to monitor the poll.

    Some 2.2 million Albanians were eligible to vote in the two-round election. Polls open at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) and close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT). Some 3,500 Albanian observers of an independent election monitoring group were also scheduled to monitor the voting. But its leaders complained on Saturday that the authorities were hampering their attempts to send their members to some areas. A total of 1,188 candidates from 24 parties were standing for direct election in the 115 single-member constituencies. Run-off ballots between the two top contenders will be held on June 2 in seats where no candidate gets an outright majority. The other 25 seats are allocated to parties according to national shares in the first round vote.

    Communications remain primitive in Albania and it may take time for results from the 4,703 polling stations to trickle into Tirana's Central Electoral Commission, the state body overseeing election organisation. The commission has indicated that it may issue provisional results some time on Monday but would probably not have official results until the middle of the week. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [02] Kadare Denies Working For Former Secret Police

    TIRANA, May 25 - An Albanian government commission has rejected allegations that the famed writer Ismail Kadare had been a secret police informer during the communist regime, the state media said. The allegations appeared Saturday in the dailies "Koha Jone" and "Gazeta Shqiptare" and were reportedly based on the testimony of a former police chief who has stood trial in a Tirana court and received death sentence on Friday. Mr. Kadare, currently living in France, faxed to the Albanian Commission for the Verification of the Character of the Officials a request to open his file and determine the falseness of the allegations. In interviews from Paris, Mr. Kadare vehemently denied any links with the former secret police and described his accuser, former vice-minister of the Interior in charge of secret police, Zylyftar Ramizi, as a "monster and hangman." The attack on Kadare comes on the eve of the Albanian national elections is believed to have been aimed at dampening the effect of Kadare's anti-socialist statements on the voters. On several occasions, Mr. Kadare has expressed himself against a victory of the Socialists in Sunday's elections. "It would be better for Albania to preserve the good image of a country where the left did not return in power." (Albanian Times)

    [03] Berisha Opens Albania's First Mobile Phone Net

    TIRANA, May 25 - President Sali Berisha on Saturday launched Albania's first mobile phone system. The inauguration of the country's mobile phone system, run by executives closely allied with Berisha, marked the president's last public appearance before he votes on Sunday. The state-owned Albania Mobile Communications group has invested more than $8 million to set up the network with equipment purchased from Germany's Alcatel Mobile Telephone Network GmbH. The state-owned Savings Bank put up as much as 75 percent of the money, with the rest financed with taxpayers' money. Using Albania's dilapidated landline phone system to make a call outside Tirana can be frustrating. The country has begun overhauling the network and installing new exchanges, but the work is hampered by the state's desperate lack of cash.

    There is an average of three telephone lines per 1,000 inhabitants, up from just one line per 1,000 in 1990. During Stalinist strongman Enver Hoxha's rule, the country's handful of telephones was reserved for the political elite. The 8,000 subscribers to the new service will have to wait a few days after the election to use the cellular phones, which sell for up to $800 in Tirana. They have paid a registration fee of $1,000 and face monthly maintenance charges of $40. Local calls are charged at a minimum of $1 per minute. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [04] Albanian political rivals recruit the famous

    TIRANA, May 25 - Albanian journalists, actors and athletes are among a galaxy of stars clamoring to nail their colors to political masts ahead of the country's third free general elections Sunday. A jaded Albanian public has welcomed the newcomers, ranging from a matinee idol to a high jumper, who are breathing fresh life into the sometimes cynical campaigns of the ruling Democrats and main opposition Socialists.

    When the Socialists launched their campaign a few weeks ago, Tirana's packed sports hall roared its approval at the news that Albania's best ever basketball player, Agim Fagu, would be standing as a candidate.

    The Democrats, sensing a real coup by the opposition, have missed no opportunity to attack Fagu. They say he was motivated by rancour after he was sacked as trade attache to Greece. Not to be outdone, Berisha's party has rolled out its own celebrity bandwagon. Nricim Xhepa, one of Albania's most successful movie and theater actors, has declared himself a staunch Democrat and is standing for election. The ruling party is also relying on the drawing power of former high jump record holder Marjeta Pronjari. By far the biggest contingent of newcomers comes from the mass media. The Democrats can boast Lazer Stani, editor-in-chief of newspaper Rilindja Demokratike and a successful writer. Analysts say journalists have the advantage of at least knowing their subject. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [05] Who's Who In The Election

    TIRANA, May 24 - The following is a description of the main political figures involved in the campaign for Albania's third free general election on Sunday:

    SALI BERISHA, 51, was elected Albania's president in April 1992, one month after his Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the country's second free election.

    The former communist, heart surgeon and university professor had become leader of the Democrats, the country's first opposition party, after student protests toppled the hardline regime of late dictator Enver Hoxha in December 1990.

    Berisha, whose term as head of state expires next year, has played a key role in the Democrats' campaign for a second consecutive term of government. He has led the small Balkan country towards integration with the West and established closer ties with the European Union and NATO.

    ALEKSANDER MEKSI, 57, is prime minister. A former archaeologist, he was one of the co-founders of the Democratic Party. His government has applied stinging economic reforms to put Albania on the road to a free market system.

    GRAMOZ PASHKO, 41, co-founded the Democratic Party with Berisha and Meksi but split away in 1992 after a row over what he considered Berisha's authoritarian style of government.

    Pashko, architect of Berisha's economic policy and an economics professor, founded the centre-right Democratic Alliance with five other former Democrat deputies.

    FATOS NANO, 43, leader of the opposition Socialist Party, the reformed communists, was arrested in 1993 and jailed in 1994 for embezzlement in an Italian aid scandal during his short stint as prime minister in 1991. He has to serve three more years in a remote prison in Albania's rural south.

    Human rights groups and some governments have questioned the legality of his trial and have called for his release.

    Nano was elected party leader in June 1991 when the communists changed their name to the Socialist Party. He speaks five languages and had worked as an economist in the former Institute for Marxist-Leninist Studies.

    SERVET PELLUMBI, 59, deputy leader of the main opposition Socialist Party, took over the reins of the party after Nano was arrested in 1993.

    Pellumbi, a former philosophy professor, is also barred from running in Sunday's election because of a controversial law prohibiting former communist officials from holding a political post until 2002. The Socialist Party says it supports the market economy and closer ties with the EU and NATO.

    SKENDER GJINUSHI, 46, head of the Social Democratic Party, stopped supporting Berisha's government in 1994 after his own party splintered. A former communist education minister, he is also barred from standing in the election because of his past ties with the previous administration.

    [06] Albania's Berisha Heads Worried Democrat Campaign

    DIVJAKE, May 23 - Albanian President Sali Berisha, ex-communist heart surgeon turned free marketeer, has left no stone unturned in a campaign battle to win votes for his ruling Democratic Party in Sunday's general election. Berisha, whose current term as president expires next year, was persuaded to deploy his skill at drawing the crowds by Democratic Party elders, worried that they lacked the charismatic politicians needed to whip up enough support. The Democratic Party has led the few opinion polls conducted since December over the main opposition Socialist Party, but political analysts say voters may have concealed their anger at the hardships imposed by four years of economic belt-tightening. Berisha has won respect in the West for his commitment to economic reform, but some governments and international rights groups have expressed concern over his human rights record. The president has indicated he may resign if the Socialists win an absolute majority in parliament, which elects the head of state. Co-habitation between a conservative president and a parliament dominated by the left would be a recipe for government gridlock. Many also believe that the Socialists would lose no time in mustering its parliamentary vote to oust Berisha in favor of their own candidate for president. The fact Berisha's name heads the Democratic Party list of candidates to be elected on a proportional basis suggested the president had already taken out an insurance policy in case his worst-case scenario came about, one diplomatic source said. (Albanian Times/Reuters)

    [07] 3 Albania Communists Get Death

    TIRANA, May 24 - Five top officials of the former Communist regime were found guilty Friday of crimes against humanity. Three were sentenced to death, the first such sentences imposed on Albania's former Communist leadership. However, it was far from certain whether the sentences read out in a Tirana district court would ever be imposed. Albania is under pressure from the Council of Europe, which oversees standards of political fairness and human rights, to do away with the death penalty. And the verdict came just two days before parliamentary elections. Defense attorney Fatmir Brakaj called the verdict a ``totally political decision'' and said he would appeal. The former chief of the Supreme Court, 74-year-old Aranit Cela; the one-time head of the feared Sigurmi secret police, 63-year-old Zylyftar Ramizi; and former general prosecutor Rrapi Mino were sentenced to death. The three stood, gray and grim, behind a crude wooden stand in the courtroom and made no comment as the verdict was read out. Relatives who packed the courtroom cried out to the men as they were handcuffed by police, who led them away. Two other officials, 82- year-old former prime minister Haxhi Lleshi and 77-year-old Manush Myftiu, who had been responsible for sending Albanians to the prison camps on orders from political authorities, had been held under house arrest because of poor health. The court gave them life sentences and ordered that they be transferred to prison. Minutes after the verdict, a blue police van pulled out from the court to pick up Lleshi at his home, where he was in bed. Genocide charges filed against the five were dropped. Four other defendants in the same trial, which began in mid-April, are still on trial. Hoxha's widow, Nexhmije, and Alia are in jail, and Alia faces a new trial this summer on charges of crimes against humanity. (Albanian Times/AP)

    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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