Albanian Premier Loses Election
TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ Albania’s prime minister was defeated today in a leadership contest for his Socialist Party, a loss that threatened a new political crisis in this turbulent Balkan country.
Following an all-night party conference, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko was ousted by former Prime Minister Fatos Nano for the leadership post by a vote of 291-261.
Majko, 33, had said he would step down as prime minister if he lost the support of the ruling party.
Nano resigned as party leader in January, four months after stepping down as prime minister in the wake of riots that nearly toppled his government.
The rioting was triggered by the assassination of a leader of the rival Democratic Party, whose chief, former President Sali Berisha, blamed the killing on Nano. Nano denied any involvement.
Majko had been hailed as a standard-bearer of a new generation of politicians untainted by membership in the discredited Communist Party, which ruled this impoverished country from the end of World War II until 1991.
Since then, Albania has been wracked by political instability, and the spillover from the crisis in neighboring Kosovo, which has an overwhelming ethnic Albanian majority.
Under Majko’s leadership, Albania allowed NATO to use the country as a staging area for troops and equipment during the conflict in Kosovo earlier this year.
There was no indication when Majko might submit his resignation to President Rexhep Meidani, who is currently in Italy attending a conference.
Nano immediately went to the Socialist Party headquarters in Tirana to meet with his key aides and plan his new government.