TIRANA, Albania -- The Communist government resigned Tuesday under an agreement by the ruling Marxists to share power with the opposition, but the move failed to persuade Albania's independent trade union syndicate to call off a crippling 19-day-old general strike.
The day passed without President Ramiz Alia, the leader of the Albanian Party of Labor, naming a replacement for Prime Minister Fatos Nano.
A National Assembly session at which a nomination had been expected adjourned after delegates heard a statement by the official Trade Union Federation criticizing the Union of Independent Unions for its 'non- participation' in 'the new political solution,' the official Albanian Telegraphic Agency said.
The power-sharing pact was aimed at encouraging the independent union to join a non-partisan effort to overcome the tiny impoverished Balkan nation's dire economic crisis, which has brought food shortages, higher unemployment and an industrial production slump, and impeded Western- style reforms.
But a spokeswoman for the Union of Independent Unions said the walkout by 350,000 workers would go on 'regardless of which government is formed' until their 17 demands were met and the strikers are guaranteed the pay they would have received during the time spent off the job.
The main demands were for a 50 percent wage hike to compensate for inflation and the prosecution of those responsible for killing four anti-Communist activists at an April 2 protest in the northern town of Shkoder. Witnesses said gunmen in the ruling party's Shkoder headquarters building shot the four.
The union leadership, however, agreed to call off a12-day-old hunger strike in support of its demands by about 100 miners barricaded inside a coal mine in Valias outside Tirana, and less publicized fasts by about 1,000 other workers in other pits and factories across the country, ATA said.
It quoted Valer Xheka, chairman of the union's strike committee, as saying the decision was made after Alia publicly confirmed he had accepted the resignations of Nano and his Cabinet.
'The strikers came out of the pits and other locations,' Xheka said. 'They were sent to the health centers of the enterprises and to hospitals.' But he confirmed that the 'just and legal' general strike that began May 17 would continue until the union's demands were met.
Nano announced his resignation during a pre-dawn National Assembly session at which he unveiled the power-sharing accord, which he said also included a guarantee by the independent union of 'social peace' and an end to strikes, the 'detachment' from their respective political parties of the members of the new coalition government, and the holding of new parliamentary elections by next May or June.
Ruling Albanian Labor Party sources said the new prime minister would be a Communist, but that Alia would not reappoint Nano. The prime minister will work out the composition of his coalition Cabinet.
The sources said one proposed Cabinet formula would award to the communists, who control more than two-thirds of the parliament, 40 percent of the portfolios and that 30 percent would go to the Democratic Party, the main opposition group.
The sources said the remaining portfolios would be split between other non-communist parties legalized earlier this year under Alia's program of financial and political reforms. Critics blamed the slow pace of reforms for the industrial production slump, food shortages and unemployment that helped ignite the general strike on May 17.
Opposition groups, particularly the democrats, favor more radical reforms that would accelerate the pace of transforming the economy from a Marxist model to a Western-style free market system.
Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha announced his organization, which had consistently rejected post-election invitations by the Communists to form a coalition, had agreed to do so in 'the interests of Albania and the entire Albanian people.'
The ruling party sources conceded the cost of the settlement could be high politically for Alia, as it was rigorously resisted by conservative communists who objected to sharing power with the opposition and to the calling of early elections.
The sources said some conservatives branded Alia a 'traitor' in closed-door deliberations that preceded the pre-dawn parliament session, and added the anger could manifest itself in a split in the Albanian Party of Labor at a party congress set for June 10.
Pressure on Nano to resign had been growing because of his failure to resolve the general strike.
In his resignation speech to parliament, Nano blamed a 'lack of support on the part of political forces' and the general strike for the 'impossibility to carry out the duty the government took upon itself.'
He defended his policies and, on a critical note, said 'the agreement the political parties have reached does not take into consideration the country's grave economic situation.'
Nano, a reform-minded Marxist economics professor, said in order to maintain 'tranquility' the first priority of the new coalition would have to be a restoration of food supplies, shortages of which were exacerbated by the general strike.