At 19:30 the situation in the Berat town was calmed down while several of the offices of the town-hall kept burning.
This morning, crowds of angry people, who had deposited money in the pyramid scheme loan-taking companies "Populli" and "Xhaferri", had initially gathered in front of Berati town-hall and had stoned the windows of this institution.
Later they passed by the sides of this building, in front of the offices of the prefecture and the district council.
The protesters, some 4000 people, shouted:"We want our money". A part of them forced entry into the town-hall offices and set ablaze the town's archives office and other offices. Two state owned cars and the fire-engine were set to fire.
Later the crowd headed for the district police commissariat, throwing stones at the police forces. The people entered the commissariat spaces and set offices to fire.
Afterwards, the crowds of people headed for the district prosecutor's office and court where they destroyed and burned the offices.
The archives of these institutions, the civil registration office and cadastre result burned. a.ke/lm
"I was faced with an anger of a part of the population, which was peacefully solved among us", stressed Shehu.
"I avail myself of the occassion to call not only on the inhabitants of Lushnja, but of other districts as well to show self-control, because the government has taken all measures to solve this problem as soon as possible, and their self-control, order and law implementation will certainly help solve everything within a short time and in their own interest. /a.ke/mt/
The State Secretary for Foreign Economic Relations in the Foreign Ministry, Selim Belortaja, explained the trap raised by defined left political forces with charity foundations and usuries and talked about the efficacious measures taken by the President and Government and for the guarantee of deposits frozen by the government. He asked coordination of work and dialogue between different local government bodies and the people to explain them the situation created and to guarantee them that the government with solve the problems showing self-control and in their interest.
The situation in Korca is calm.
The prefecture of Korca held on the same day meetings in districts of Pogradec, Kolonje and Devoll with representatives of local power and to explain the situation and the measures taken by the government. The situation is calm even in these districts.
The Shkodra city, which was visited today by Albanian Speaker Arbnori, was as well calm. The same situation prevailed in Elbasani and other cities. /pas/mt/
Besides the freezing of the accounts of the pyramid scheme firms in the Albanian Bank, police have uncovered in the recent days over 50 million dollars deposited in banks in the name of the sons of the presidents of the pyramid scheme firms Xhaferri and Populli. eva/xh/e
The Interior Ministry calls on all savers to keep cool and distance from violence and extremists who seek to profit from the situation created by setting buildings on fire and destroying.
The Interior Ministry reports that it will protect at any cost the state institutions, conformed the law for the protection of these institutions. xh/E
The first conclusion to be drawn is that during the coming few days, we may present in the parliament the law on the distribution of the frozen money accounts. With the intervention of the government in time, it has been made possible that about 300 million dollars, deposited by the two main foundations, be ensured. The pyramid schemes used by two foundations aimed to distribute a great amount of money during February and March which could could furnish only one third of the creditors.
I think that with the work made so far by the experts and the Tirana Prosecutor's Office which is investigating into the matter, about February 5, we may begin the systematic distribution of the money on the basis of studies made and the law to be presented to the Parliament. This is a job which cannot be made in a day but it is a work which guarantees all the creditors of their money.
Our commitment to start distributing the money on February 5, 1997 is a reality, said Meksi. The Government is resolute to complete this job within the set limits, without causing any economic tension in the Albanian currency market, hence, without changing the purchasing value of the Lek and its exchange. This is a main task for the macroeconomic stability which we managed to ensure during the five years under democratic rule.
This should also convince everybody that the macroeconomic stability demands tranquillity, order, justice and we all are committed to this direction. ake/xh/E
"This was confirmed recently by the department of coordination and development in the Council of Ministers," told ATA the chief of the economic section and programs in the Saranda district council, Thanas Qirjaqi.
The extension of the port for passengers will be made by displacing the port of commodities in the place called "The bay of Limion", 1.2 km from the existing sea port.
The study will be realised within 1997. ake/eva/xh/E
Under the title "People should disassociate from terrorists," the paper writes about the working meeting held yesterday by the President of Albania Berisha with representatives of the Albanian political parties, regarding the problem of the collapsing pyramid schemes and the distribution of the money to creditors.
Zeri i Popullit calls today for a rally in Tirana under the title "Big rally of protest." The paper carries an interview with Rexhep Mejdani, Secretary General of the SPA with the Voice of America.
Republika writes an article under the title "Albania ablaze. Crowds ignore any kind of power," reflecting the events in Lushnja and Berat yesterday.
"Socialists lead the crowd" is the title of an editorial of Albania. The paper also has an article under the title "The custody for the main officials of the pyramid schemes valued."
Koha Jone entitles one of its editorials "Don't ruin!" The paper reports today that rallies will be held in Tirana, Vlora, Korca and Saranda.
Dita Informacion reflects the protests of savers in the districts of Lushnja and Berat.
Gazeta Shqiptare writes "The pyramid scheme quake ruins towns," regarding the events in Lushnja and Berat yesterday. The paper also carries an editorial "Blind violence kills but does not heal..." eva/xh/E
At the end of the rally, Arben Imami, Democratic Alliance Party leader, called on protesters to head for the Scanderbeg Square, in Tirana centre.
After this appeal, protesters took to the Scanderbeg square, through the Deshmoret e Kombit boulevard, hurling stones and other objects at the cordon of policemen.
The police acted correctly with the demonstrators. xh/E
Also present in the meeting with the district council were the Greek general consul in Gjirokastra, Nikollaos Kanellos, leaders of the ethnic association Omonia, and others.
Thoma Papagjika, chairman of the Saranda district council expressed the desire for a closer cooperation at local government level. He appreciated the assistance of Greece for Albania as a EU member and neighbouring country.
After expressing his thanks for the reception, the Greek Ambassador focused on the greater contribution of Greece as a EU country for the implementation of the European Union programs for the bordering countries like Albania.
Mr Prevendurakis also had a meeting with the mayor of Saranda, Capajev Zera.
During his rwo day visit to the districts of Saranda and Delvina, the Greek Ambassador met with inhabitants of the Greek minority villages, leaders of Omonia association, etc.
At the end of the first official visit to these districts Konstandinos Prevendurakis told ATA: "With my official visit to these districts I would like to convey the message of friendship of the Greek people for the Albanian people, the will of the Greek party for a quicker progress in Albania and to see closely the needs of this zone in order to influence for rapid progressive steps of the minority and of all the inhabitants of these areas." eva/xh/E
In the three above mentioned cities, the crowds of people have been led by local socialist, ex-communist, leaders.
In all the cases, police have taken a passive stand, not wanting to risk the lives of the demonstrators, although their acts have been illegitimate. So far, 84 policemen and a lower number of protesters have been injured during protests in some towns.
Traditionally, Southern Albania has been the Albanian communist most influenced zone.
In Shkodra, the biggest northern city of Albania, and in Durres everything goes on normally. Nothing special has occurred in these two cities. xh/e
Thousands of protesters shouted slogans "we need our money", blaming the created situation on the government. In the meeting, leaders of SP (Socialist Party), SDP (Social Democratic Party) and the DAP (Democratic Alliance Party) expressed their support on the demonstrators' requests.
Rexhep Mejdani, SP Secretary General, blaming the government for the created situation, asked its resignation. He said that "the only alternative to solve this situation is the establishment of a technical government". "Only a technical government can return the lost money", he added.
Arben Imami, one of DAP leaders, called people to head for the Scanderbeg Square.
After this appeal, some 1000-2000 protesters took to the Scanderbeg Square through the Deshmoret e Kombit boulevard.
The protestors broke the police cordons by hurling stones and gathered in the Scanderbeg Square, shouting "we need our money", as well as slogans against the government.
The police acted very correctly, by allowing no confrontations with the crowd.
At about 13:30 the protesters were dispersed from the Scanderbeg Square. /eva/mt/e
The situation became normal by 14:15.
Now in the square it can be clearly seen whole surfaces covered with stones, glass, pieces of marble broken from the stairs of the Palace of Culture. /eva/mt/
"We ensure you that along with the measures taken by parliament, we, as a municipal council, based on the competencies of the local self- government, are working intensively to avoid as soon as possible the consequences due to the collapse of pyramid investment schemes in the families hit by this phenomenon".
All the political forces which participate in the municipal council of Shkodra approved unanimously this statement.
The last two days, in some towns, especially in South, where the pyramid schemes Xhaferri and Populli started their activity, the protests of people who have lost their money in these firms were followed by burns and destructions. There were set on fire besides the buildings of the local government even savings banks, cinemas, documents of cadastres and many others.
The Socialist Party has declared that it will lead these protests of people robbed by loan-taking companies. The influence of this party is bigger exactly in Southern cities of Albania. /a.ke/pas/mt/
The aim of the meeting was to explain the people the efficacity of the measures taken by the government and President to reimburse the money to the citizens, as well as the control of situation to avoid the destructive acts with grave consequences.
The inhabitants of Gjirokastra and Permeti have showed so far a good example of civilization, by keeping self-control, waiting for the solutions proposed by the government.
Even in Tepelena town the protests of creditors have been peaceful, without manifesting violent acts. /a.ke/pas/mt/
The protesters agreed to unblock the national road and not to carry any violent act, as happened in other districts, after they came to know the statement of Premier Meksi to start the distribution of the money to the people hit by the collapse of loan-taking companies on February 5th.
The SP representatives tried to manipulate the meeting, but the reaction of protesters was peremptory: "We are not interested in the political aims of set forces. We are interested in our money. We believe that their reimbursement will start on February 5th", they said. /a.ke/pas/mt/
"Police forces have been very constructive and tolerant. The Interior Ministry has been open towards the peaceful protests. But despite of the careful operations of the police forces, the crowd could not be avoided, and in many cases it caused damages in many state institutions", said Minister Shamata.
Shamata stressed that the situation has been tense in towns of Lushnje, Berat, Gramsh, Skrapar, Polical and Memaliaj, while in Kavaja has started the dialogue.
From the police forces there have been 84 wounded, 24 of whom are in grave situation, while two others are in coma state. The number of detained is 30 persons, there are no killed persons, continued Shamata.
In his speech Premier Meksi stressed that "It is not true that Albanians set their houses on fire from anger. But those who fight for the chairs of their fathers, wait anxiously for such cases. To set on fire Albpetrol (state-owned oil company), Banks and anything else of the state does not mean that it has simply to do with the money. I call on all the Albanians to stay away from the communist gangs".
"The government will bring to Parliament within 2-3 days the law on the rules for the distribution of the frozen deposits. The money collected by the foundations will be reimbursed, beginning on February 5th. This process will start without damaging the Albanian economy", said Meksi.
The discussions of deputies put the stress on the acceleration of the distribution process of the frozen deposits.
The Deputy Speaker, Margarita Qirko said that "The Albanian Television should deal only with this problem to dialogue and inform the citizens". /eva/mt/
The police acted correctly with the demonstrators.
Later on, the protesters dispersed peacefully and the situation in the town is normal. /a.ke//mt/
In the town of Peqin, due to the efficacious intervention of the local bodies, were repaired the damages caused in the railway, putting it in use since during the first hours of today.
The situation was calm even in towns of Gramsh and Belsh, where the angry crowd destroyed two days ago some buildings of local institutions and offices of loan-taking companies.
The situation is calm in Elbasan after the dialogue of the Mayor with the protesters. /pas/mt/
"Limited units of the Albanian Armed Forces will help the the Interior Ministry forces to cope with the situation created in the country".
"The police lack forces and equipment to carry out their duty under these conditions", said Interior Minister Halit Shamata.
The decision aim to protect the state and public institutions, as well as the free movement in the national roads.
As a result of the violent acts of some people, accused by several papers of being segments of former Sigurimi in several cities and towns of Albania, like in Lushnje, Berat, Korce, Vlore, some state and public institutions, some town halls, cultural spaces, and even the police commissariats have been damaged and set on fire.
These cities' national roads have also been blocked for long hours.
"In today's demonstration in Tirana, crowds of people tried to attack the seat of the Albanian Parliament", said Albanian deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, Tritan Shehu. /pas/mt/