ALBANIA'S Communists yesterday elected reformist Trade Minister Fatos Nano as president of their newly renamed Albanian Socialist Party. The Communists are joining opposition parties in the country's first coalition government in a bid to secure the political stability needed to rebuild the blighted economy.
On Wednesday, the Communist-controlled, 450-member National Assembly approved the 22-member Cabinet presented by new Prime Minister Ylli Bufi.
Under a power-sharing accord, the Cabinet consists of 12 members of the new Socialist Party; seven from the main opposition organization, the Democratic Party; two from the Republican Party; and one from the Social-Democratic Party.
Mr. Bufi told parliament Wednesday that Albania faces an ``economic catastrophe'' and has only a few days of food reserves remaining.
``We must move fast toward a free market,'' Bufi said.
``Our main target is privatization, land reform, and a market economy.''
One of the founders of the pro-Western Democratic Party, Gramoz Pashko, the son of high-ranking Communists, was sworn in as deputy prime minister and minister for economics. Mr. Pashko is an advocate of radical reform of Albania's moribund Marxist-style economy.
Pashko called for emergency international aid and urged Albanian trade unions to honor their pledge not to go on strike during the new government's mandate.
The country needs $150 million, Pashko told Agence France-Presse.