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Albania: Parliament To Convene Wednesday

Tirana, 21 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - A spokesman for Albanian President Sali Berisha says the newly- elected parliament will convene Wednesday. The Socialist Party, which swept Albanian parliamentary elections last month, accused Berisha yesterday of stalling over convening the new parliament and intentionally prolonging the country's crisis. Today, Berisha issued a decree convening the parliament.

Berisha has repeatedly said he will resign once the new parliament is in place. However, his statement today gave no indication of when he planned to step down.

Earlier today, Berisha's Democratic Party announced it would boycott the first session of parliament in protest over the manner in which the polls were conducted.

The Democratic Party, which won 27 seats, accused the Socialists of creating an atmosphere of violence and terror during voting. The party's statment said the June 29 elections were held in "a climate of violence and terror exercised by Socialist gangs against supporters of the Democratic Party and the population in general."

The Socialist party, reformed heirs of the country's longtime Communist rulers, won 117 seats.

Meanwhile, in Athens, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has convened an urgent meeting of his cabinet to discuss an upsurge in criminality and Albanian immigration into the country.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today's meeting would study the questions concerning Albanian immigration into Greece, but also the problems which have arisen because of the activities of criminal elements. The meeting was attended by the ministers of Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs.

It follows yesterday's deployment of Greek police and soldiers to fill gaps along Greece's northern border with Albania, which has seen an increase in cross border traffic and criminality.

An armed rebellion in March in Albania against the government of President Sali Berisha has led to a massive increase in banditry and criminality in the region. Tirana still does not have control over the south of the country which was the focus of the rebellion.