About 50,000 Albanians chanted "Freedom! Democracy!" at an emotional rally Friday crowning opposition efforts to oust the communist leadership during historic multiparty elections this weekend.
The boisterous crowd was the biggest the Democratic Party has ever drawn in Tirana's so-called Democracy Square, named for the protests last December that forced the communists to permit opposition parties.The communists' ruling Party of Labor, by contrast, attracted 3,500 invited guests to Tirana's Palace of Congresses for a speech by the party leader, President Ramiz Alia, to the voters of his electoral district.
Earlier Friday, Alia told foreign journalists he would like to see a multiparty coalition formed to govern Albania regardless of the outcome of Sunday's vote, the first such election in Albania in more than 60 years.
At stake are 250 seats in the one-chamber People's Assembly Parliament, which must address the country's economic disaster and codify reforms the communists have begun implementing under pressure from the democracy movement.