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Albania Eases Political, Religious Restrictions

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OPPOSITION activity and religious practice, banned in Albania during the Stalinist rule of late leader Enver Hoxha, have flourished in the past two months as President Ramiz Alia slowly unravels the isolationist cocoon woven by his predecessor. On Jan. 5 President Alia pardoned 202 political prisoners and said all others jailed for political crimes might also be freed, apparently meeting a key opposition demand.

``It was our request to set free all political prisoners and perhaps this is the first sign that this request was not a voice in the wilderness,'' said Genc Polo, spokesman for the new opposition Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party, founded Dec. 12, has staged rallies in several provincial towns to press for a delay of parliamentary elections set for Feb. 10 until May to give it a chance to organize.

A bomb exploded Jan. 6 at a rally of thousands of supporters of the Democratic Party Sunday, Mr. Polo said by telephone from Tirana.

The spokesman said a crude bomb went off behind the podium as party leaders addressed 40,000 people in Independence Square in the city of Vlore.

``I can't say who planted the bomb, but it was obviously people who are trying to keep Albania under their strategy of tension and are not interested in democracy here,'' Polo said.


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