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World News Review WNR 8-5-97
Albania: Daily Rejects Berisha's Stance on Southern Committees
Tirana Koha Jone in Albanian 6 May 97 p 16 Commentary by Gavrosh Levonja: "Committees Serving Berisha's Game"
Once the agreement to hold elections on 29 June, or around that time, was made, in his few contacts with representatives of international community, Berisha began to play the game of the danger posed by the citizens' committees that were set up in the south of the country. It is a well-known fact that the said committees were set up at the time when even the slightest trace of local authority had vanished completely. The people who undertook to set up and participate in these committees were prompted by their good will not to let the situation get worse and to prevent further tragic outcomes. However, these committees could not fail to express the voice of the large number of people who had lost their savings in the failure of the pyramid schemes. These people had been the main participants in these revolts, and, therefore, their crucial demand would surely be for Berisha's resignation. This accounted for the tension that was created between Berisha and the committees. However, the calmer the situation, the more remote became the possibility for Berisha's resignation prior to elections. Under these conditions, although the committees have somewhat toned down their demands for Berisha's resignation, on his part, Berisha has never relented his attacks against the committees. Berisha and his followers continue to complain that "Elections are jeopardized by the committees' existence," that "rightist parties cannot conduct electoral campaigns in the South," that "the rightist press cannot go there," and so on. The truth is that only Berisha and his party, and not the rightist parties, cannot go to the south to conduct their electoral campaign; and that only Berisha's newspaper, which has consistently insulted the protesters in several cities in the south, cannot be read or distributed there. On the other hand, the committees themselves have not prevented anyone, either left or right, from going to the south. King Leka Zog's visit to Vlore and other southern cities is the best refutation of Berisha's allegation. Being in a fix, Berisha prefers to speak from the right-wing position when it is a fact that rightists do not need any such advocate. Berisha is justifying his failure to go to the south with the committees' presence, but no one knows whether Berisha will go to the south in the event of the committees being dissolved. It is hard to find an optimist who even envisions Berisha going to meet the people of Vlore or those of some other southern city. It is a fact of life that Berisha has not left Tirana since the end of February, even to give heart to his two bastions in the other two-thirds of the country. Thus the committees are unintentionally serving Berisha to justify his thesis that elections cannot be held in the near future. It might happen that the committees may declare their dissolution or lay down their weapons (although there are no records to prove how many arms were taken) and then they would say to Berisha: "Here you are, come if you wish!" However, knowing that Berisha cannot go to the south even if there are no committees, nobody can tell what pretext he will find instead of the committees.
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