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New government wins confidence vote

July 29, 1997

TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ Backed by a vote of confidence Tuesday in Parliament, Albania’s new government now will try to restore order and rebuild the country’s institutions and economy.

Socialist Premier Fatos Nano’s government was approved with 114 votes in favor, none against and three abstentions.

The 27 lawmakers from the Democratic Party, still smarting from a crushing defeat in the June 29 and July 6 elections, boycotted the vote as they have the two previous sessions.

Nano pledged to coexist peacefully with the Democrats in a speech to the chamber Monday. He also said his Cabinet’s top priority would be the reestablishment of order in this violence-torn country.

How successful he is will depend largely on whether he is able to rein in dozens of feuding gangs and collect hundreds of thousands of weapons looted from state armories since Albania plunged into chaos earlier this year.

At least eight people were killed in Albania in the past 24 hours, bringing the total since Thursday to more than 40.

Tirana journalists were alarmed by word from the Interior Ministry that one of the eight victims killed overnight was Ali Ukaj, a 26-year-old reporter for the independent daily Gazeta Shqiptare, who was found beaten to death in his apartment Tuesday morning. No further details were available.

He was the first journalist to fall victim to Albania’s turmoil.

More than 1,800 people have been killed since March, when widespread protests over failed high-risk investment funds turned into a tumultuous drive to oust President Sali Berisha’s government.

Berisha was blamed for allowing the high-risk financial schemes to operate and accused of profiting from them.

Nano said his government plans to adopt a law that would mandate greater transparency for the schemes still operating.

He said the government would try and seize all the remaining assets belonging to the pyramid schemes both in Albania and abroad in an attempt to compensate those who lost money.

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