Security forces Saturday maintained control of towns hit by anti-government rioting, and Albania's first independent political party sought permission from the Marxist regime to launch an effort to avert new unrest, party leaders said.
There were no reports of fresh violence in the tiny Balkan nation. States of emergency remained in effect in at least five towns, the movement into and out of which was prohibited by the military and police, police sources said."According to our activists in those areas, the situation is calm," said Gramoz Pashko, an economics professor at Tirana's Enver Hoxha University and a key organizer of the new Democratic Party, which has forcefully condemned the unrest.
He said party leaders on Friday night requested "a dialogue" with the regime of President Ramiz Alia "on how to solve the situation."
Among other proposals, the party wants to send members to trouble spots to speak with residents and persuade them to support a peaceful transition to democracy after 45 years of Stalinist-style police rule, said Pashko.
Party leaders said they believed the rioting was the result of pent-up frustration and disenchantment with Albania's severe economic problems and decades of harsh Marxist rule among uneducated workers, unfamiliar with democratic norms.
Sali Berisha, a cardiologist, said the party was holding talks with Justice Minister Enver Halili on its plan, but had not received approval.
"There are direct contacts with the minister of justice, because we are not properly legalized yet and that is frustrating for us," he said. "The government will not allow us to go out to the cities where there is trouble.
The unrest erupted after Alia agreed on Monday - following three days of student protests - to permit independent parties in a gradual loosening of the bonds of communism he began after the downfall of Marxist regimes in other parts of Eastern Europe in 1989.
Observers said protesters may have seen the government's decision to allow individual parties as a signal it would tolerate opposition. The formation Tuesday of the Democratic Party, which has yet to be legally recognized by the regime, apparently provided the spark for the disturbances.
Pashko said the new party planned to submit its request for formal recognition to the government on Saturday afternoon.
The government on Friday evening appealed for citizens to help security forces curb unrest after daylong rioting in Kavaja, Elbasan, Durres and Saranda that followed anti-government protests by thousands of workers.