Albanian leader Berisha resigns
July 23, 1997
Web posted at: 2:37 p.m. EDT (1837 GMT)
TIRANA, Albania (CNN) -- Albanian President Sali Berisha
resigned Wednesday and said he would lead the opposition in
The resignation came as the country's newly elected
parliament began its first meeting in the capital Tirana,
amid a boycott by Berisha's Democratic Party representatives.
"Though I have been elected from a fairer and more honest
parliament than this present one, I declare my irrevocable
resignation to return to the post of a deputy for the
Democratic Party," said Berisha.
Berisha's Democratic Party had previously dominated this
small Balkan country but lost to the Socialists in
parliamentary elections earlier this year.
Berisha and the Democrats suffered a huge loss of popularity
because of the perception that they had profited from shaky
investment schemes that collapsed at the beginning of this
year, taking the savings of many Albanians and triggering
months of violent street protests and lawlessness.
Berisha had promised to step down once the new parliament was
in place, and his resignation had been eagerly awaited by his
Socialist Party opponents, who feared he could try to
influence the formation of the new cabinet.
Berisha's resignation clears the way for Fatos Nano and his
Socialists to choose the president, as well as dominate the
Parliament is expected to elect Socialist Party
Secretary-General Rexhep Mejdani as president to replace
Following constitutional court rulings on disputes and some
changing of alliances, the Socialists and their coalition
allies will have 118 seats in the 155-seat parliament, while
the Democrats will have 24.
The first tasks facing the new assembly is to restore
law and order and to resolve the economic chaos left by the
collapse of the high-interest investment schemes.
Albania's first non-communist president, Berisha was
initially praised in the West for rapid introduction of
market reforms. But enthusiasm faded as he resorted to
increasingly authoritarian methods and failed to check the
spread of the pyramid schemes.
The European Union on Tuesday urged Albanian political
factions to do everything necessary to allow a new government
with a popular mandate to be set up.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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