Albania's political parties agree to election plan
June ballot designed to end months of chaos
May 9, 1997
Web posted at: 9:36 p.m. EDT (0136 GMT)
TIRANA, Albania (CNN) -- Albania's 10 major political parties have agreed on a blueprint for holding elections next month, hoping to end more than three months of political chaos that has torn apart the Balkan nation.
, who negotiated the election plan, hailed it as a "breakthrough."
"However, I hasten to add that bringing it to reality is, of course, still a very important task by Albanian politicians, by the international community," Vranitzky said.
The last major obstacle to reaching agreement on the plan was President Sali Berisha and officials of his Democratic Party, who had been reluctant to sign on. But Friday, after meeting again with Vranitzky, Berisha relented, saying the election process would help return Albania to normalcy.
"President Berisha expresses his determination to be committed and to contribute in the implementation of this agreement," said a statement from his office.
Widespread rioting broke out in Albania in February after pyramid savings schemes, in which many people had invested their life's savings, failed. Berisha became the target for much of the public's anger.
As the political situation deteriorated, an interim nine-party national reconciliation government was installed, led by Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino.
Under the framework worked out by Vranitzky, elections for a new parliament would be held by the end of June under an election law to be unveiled Monday. Members would be selected using a combination of majority voting and proportional voting.
Berisha and his Democrats had wanted majority voting to be used, while smaller parties were in favor of a proportional ballot, which would give them a better chance of winning seats.
In a concession to Berisha, "salvation committees," groups that had been set up to restore order in riot-torn areas of southern Albania, will be disbanded prior to the election. The president contends those committees are the armed wing of the Socialists, a charge the opposition party denies.
The contract signed by the political parties Friday also guarantees freedom of movement for all of the parties during the election and calls for creation of an international force to monitor the ballot.
The parties also agreed to ease somewhat a ban that prohibited former officials of Albania's deposed hard-line Communist regime from seeking office.
While the ban wasn't completely removed, it was eased enough to allow Socialist leader Fatos Nano, who was a senior Communist official, to stand for office.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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