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Hard-line Communist picked as Albanian prime minister

TIRANA, Albania -- President Ramiz Alia tapped a veteran Communist technocrat as his new prime minister and gave him five days to form Albania's first coalition Cabinet.

In a letter to an evening session of the National Assembly, Alia Wednesday nominated Ylli Bufi, 45, to replace Fatos Nano, who resigned with his Cabinet Tuesday under the power-sharing accord that ended 46 years of continuous Communist rule.

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During the session, several opposition Democratic Party delegates reported the death Wednesday of a police officer shot Tuesday night by an unknown gunman outside their headquarters in the town of Shkoder. They also said unidentified attackers beat to death several ambulance occupants in the port city of Durres on Tuesday night.

Alia made the decision on Bufi during a meeting with Xhelil Gjioni and Ismail Lleshi, top officials of his communist Albanian Labor Party, opposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha, and the heads of other non-communist political organizations legalized under a program of gradual reforms that has ended Albania's isolation as a Europe's most rigid Stalinist stronghold.

'We came to the conclusion that Ylli Bufi will be the next prime minister and he will form the new Cabinet,' Alia said in his letter.

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Bufi, an engineer and veteran Communist apparachik who served as Nano's food supply minister, was given five days in which to select his coalition government and obtain a parliamentary vote of confidence.

His stint as food supply minister could serve him well in trying to alleviate shortages of basic foodstuffs that have resulted in malnutrition in many areas of the impoverished Balkan nation and created widespread dissaffection for the Communists.

The power-sharing pact was aimed at providing sufficient political breathing space to allow the coalition Cabinet to begin attacking the economic crisis.

The accord, however, failed to entice support for the non-partisan initiative from the Union of Independent Unions, which refused to end a nationwide general strike by 350,000 state enterprise workers until all of its political and economic demands are fulfilled. The strike began May 17.

Ruling party sources had earlier predicted the choice of Bufi, adding that Alia had had problems finding someone willing to accept the task of devising a plan to tackle worsening poverty, food shortages and unemployment among Albania's 3.2 million people, or face a popular backlash.

Nano resigned amid mounting wrath over his inability to resolve the general strike, which has been marked by massive demonstrations and several outbreaks of violence that provoked fears of even worse instability should the economic crisis go unresolved.

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Meanwhile, the political freedoms ushered in by Alia's reforms threatened to further complicate the situation, with several labor organizations complaining they were not included with independent union leaders in consultations that resulted in the power-sharing pact.

The Independent Union of Oilmen, claiming to represent workers in the country's tiny oil industry, threatened to strike if it is not included in discussions by the planned coalition government on devising an economic recovery plan.

The oil union said it was not part of either the official Trade Union Federation or the Union of Independent Unions.

The Union of Independent Unions is demanding a 50 percent wage hike for state enterprise workers and the prosecution of those responsible for killing four opposition activists during an anti-Communist protest on April 2 in the northern town of Shkoder. Witnesses said gunmen inside the ruling party Shkoder headquarters building shot the four.

Under the power-sharing accord, the Union of Independent Unions had reportedly agreed to cooperate and end the general strike. The pact also required the 'detachment' from their political parties of members of the planned coalition Cabinet and the calling of early parliamentary polls next May or June.

The 450-member National Assembly is controlled by the Communists, who won a more than two-thirds majority in March 31 and April 7 multi-party polls, the first modern elections held in Albania since it won independence from Turkey in 1912.NEWLN: ----------

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pcc yigfrxx. yijarsf. yixhrsf. xxxxxxxx us to naa r i bc-safrica-apartheid:1205aed sked 6-6 NEWLN: (Editors: Repeating earlier story)NEWLN: South African parliament scraps two key apartheid laws

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (UPI) -- South Africa abolished two key racial segregation laws that restricted blacks to designated areas of the country.

The three housesof Parliament, still separated into white, colored and Asian assemblies, Wednesday formally approved the 1991 Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures bill, undoing the work of successive apartheid measures aimed at keeping non-whites out of designated areas of South Africa.

In South Africa's white parliament, the House of Assembly, right-wing members of the Conservative Party voted against the bill. In the House of Representative, the colored assembly, the majority Labor Party abstained from voting, having opposed the abolition because of provisos they argued could be used to discriminate against non-whites.

The National Party government of President Frederik de Klerk has pledged to remove the last vestiges of apartheid from South Africa by June 30.

The acts scrapped Wednesday were crucial to the mass social engineering behind South Africa's apartheid state as conceived in the 1950s.

The Land Acts, passed in 1913 and 1936 before apartheid was conceptualized, were designed to allocate 87 percent of South African land to minority whites and led to forced mass resettlements across the country.

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The Group Areas Act of 1950 reinforced segregation by imposing strict rules on where people could live, own businesses and work. It was ruthlessly enforced until about 10 years ago when economic considerations began to make it unworkable.

It has not been used to resettle blacks in South Africa since 1984.

Opposition, primarily from the Labor Party, to abolition was founded this year mainly on clauses establishing 'norms and standards' that allowed individual communities to impose municipal building, safety, population density and other regulations on residents.

Black and colored groups have argued that the 'norms and standards' constitute a loophole that could allow white communities to exclude non- whites by imposing rules favoring whites.

In a bid to counter the objection, the government this year re-wrote the bill specifically to exclude racially based 'norms and standards.'

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