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Albania: Multinational Force Expected To Bring Order And Stability

Durres, Albania, 14 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- An adviser to Albanian President Sali Berisha said today that the multinational force expected in his country tomorrow will help the Albanian authorities restore order and bring stability. But he said the force will have no influence on Albania's internal political situation.

Genc Pollo, newly elected secretary-general of Berisha's ruling Democratic Party, told the Associated press the Albanians themselves will decide their political future by ballot box.

A 10-party caretaker government, approved by the parliament after a state of emergency was declared last month, is planning to hold elections in June, but they may be delayed because of continuing lawlessness. The unrest was sparked in January by the collapse of get-rich-quick investment schemes.

Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano says that the Italian-led military humanitarian mission is necessary to stabilize Albania.

Nano told RFE/RL's Russian Service today that the multinational force has his full backing. He said that political trends in the country are moving against President Sali Berisha, whom he blamed for much of the problem.

Nano was prime minister in one of the post-communist transition governments in 1991 but until recently was imprisoned for embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. He got out of prison last month and subsequently received a presidential pardon. His backers and numerous foreign human rights organizations say the charges against him were politically motivated.

The Italian government said nearly 1,200 Italian, French and Spanish troops will land in Albania tomorrow at the start of the Italian-led security mission to secure major ports and Tirana airport. The aim is to protect food deliveries from marauding armed gangs that have terrorized the country for three months.

A spokesman for the UN's World Food Program, the world's largest international food aid organization, said Albania's poor desperately need food as they wait for the multinational force.

Meanwhile, in London, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Jacques de Larosiere, said today that the Albanian government squandered the benefits of hard-won economic reforms by failing to supervise the country's pyramid schemes.

He told the annual EBRD meeting in London that Albania's armed revolt occurred because the authorities failed to regulate and supervise the get-rich-quick schemes.

Pyramid investment schemes for a while pay large returns by handing out money from later investors to early investors, but by their nature are doomed to collapse when the pool of new investors dries up.

De Larosiere said the chaotic developments in Europe's poorest country are a tragic illustration of how hard-won progress in transition can be lost with frightening speed.

The outgoing EBRD vice president, Ron Freeman, said yesterday that Albanian authorities were warned of the dangers of pyramid investment schemes before their collapse triggered anarchy across the country.