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Albania: Self-Proclaimed King Gets Rough Reception

Vlore, Albania; 24 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Correspondents say Albania's would-be King, Leka, got a rough reception today during a visit to the rebel-held port city of Vlore.

More than 5,000 people were massed on the main square in Vlore when Leka arrived to test support for his bid to restore the monarchy to lawless Albania.

Reports say scattered shouts of "Long live the King" quickly gave way to repeated anti-government chants. Leka stopped to place a wreath at the grave of Ismail Qemale, a national hero who had declared Albania's independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. He also urged peace and unity.

But the self-proclaimed king stayed in Vlore only 20 minutes before his convoy of three black Mercedes headed back to the capital of Tirana.

Leka, the son of Albania's King Zog, was only three days old when, during the 1939 Italian invasion, he was rushed out of the country. Zog, a mountain chieftan from the Mat region of central Albania, had declared himself King of Albania in 1928.