Albania Elects Reformist Leader
ALBANIA'S Communists yesterday elected reformist Trade Minister Fatos Nano as president of their newly renamed Albanian Socialist Party. The Communists are joining opposition parties in the country's first coalition government in a bid to secure the political stability needed to rebuild the blighted economy.
On Wednesday, the Communist-controlled, 450-member National Assembly approved the 22-member Cabinet presented by new Prime Minister Ylli Bufi.
Under a power-sharing accord, the Cabinet consists of 12 members of the new Socialist Party; seven from the main opposition organization, the Democratic Party; two from the Republican Party; and one from the Social-Democratic Party.
Mr. Bufi told parliament Wednesday that Albania faces an ``economic catastrophe'' and has only a few days of food reserves remaining.
``We must move fast toward a free market,'' Bufi said.
``Our main target is privatization, land reform, and a market economy.''
One of the founders of the pro-Western Democratic Party, Gramoz Pashko, the son of high-ranking Communists, was sworn in as deputy prime minister and minister for economics. Mr. Pashko is an advocate of radical reform of Albania's moribund Marxist-style economy.
Pashko called for emergency international aid and urged Albanian trade unions to honor their pledge not to go on strike during the new government's mandate.
The country needs $150 million, Pashko told Agence France-Presse.