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Albania: Ruling Party Urges Counter-Demonstration

Tirana, 27 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Albania's ruling democratic party today called for a counter demonstration outside the party headquarters of rival Socialists -- reformed communists -- tomorrow.

Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu, chairman of the democratic party, told a meeting of supporters in Tirana that it was time for the party to show its muscle against what he called "red gangs" of former communist secret police.

Shehu blames the opposition Socialists for inflaming two weeks of protests around the country, sparked by the collapse of get rich-quick investment schemes. The collapse of the investment schemes has wiped out the entire savings of many Albanians, and the protesters -- accusing the government of involvement -- have been demanding state refunds.

The meeting attended by Shehu also welcomed yesterday's decision by Parliament to give special powers to President Sali Berisha enabling him to use the military to restore order if necessary.

But the opposition parties, in a joint statement, said the decision amounted to placing Albania under defacto martial law.

At a separate meeting in Tirana, the opposition Socialists, Social Democrats and Democratic Alliance, called for talks with all political parties to try to resolve the crisis and stressed that all protests should be non-violent. The opposition leaders also called for the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi.