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Albania: Prime Minister Meta Resigns

Tirana, 29 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta resigned today after months of quarreling with leaders of his Socialist Party. The crisis began when Socialist Party chairman Fatos Nano challenged Meta's right to govern despite a win in parliamentary elections last June. Nano accused the government of corruption and incompetence and demanded that the cabinet be restructured. Four ministers resigned in recent months to try to ease the crisis, but Nano loyalists blocked the appointment of their replacements. Meta's resignation follows the failure of talks this week to agree on a restructure.

The squabbling in one of Europe's poorest countries stalled government operations, a problem heightened by a winter so severe that a state of emergency was declared in some areas. Politicians said the feud discouraged badly needed foreign investment and caused neglect of economic reforms.

In othe news, the Albanian opposition led by former President Sali Berisha returned to parliament today after a six-month boycott over the validity of legislative elections.

Berisha told a leadership meeting of his Democratic Party that the opposition will take up its seats, not because it recognizes the institution's legitimacy, but to use all means to allow all Albanians to have their voices heard.

The opposition coalition led by Berisha's party had refused to sit in the chamber since the June elections, charging that the vote won by the Socialist Party was riddled with irregularities. The Socialists won 86 out of 140 seats.