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Albania president: Ready to resign to solve political crisis

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The Albanian president said Wednesday he would be ready to resign from his post — or even to kill himself — if it would help resolve his country's political crisis. Ilir Meta said that after failing to mediate a solution he was ready to resign if he were "assured the country has a political, constitutional and solid solution."

Though Meta was elected two years ago with the votes of the ruling leftist Socialist Party, he has not been at peace with the government since. The center-right Democratic Party-led opposition has resigned from its parliamentary mandates and has been holding protests accusing the leftist Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Edi Rama of being corrupt and linked to organized crime, and asking for an early election.

Speaking to reporters in the eastern city of Pogradec, Meta also compared himself to the Chilean President Salvador Allende, who killed himself in 1973 as troops surrounded his palace following a military coup.

Meta said he would be ready to "sacrifice my own life like Salvador Allende to stop the installation of a junta that would turn Albania back 30 years." The opposition has not heeded calls from the United States and the European Union not to incite violence and to sit down for talks with the government.

During five rallies in a month, opposition supporters have used smoke bombs and projectiles to try to enter the parliament or the government buildings. Police have responded with tear gas and water cannons. A new rally is planned for Thursday.

The governing Socialists have 74 seats in the 140-seat parliament. Some of the seats vacated by the opposition have been replaced by others from its lists, but many remain empty. The Socialists say the opposition is not helping Albania's progress toward European Union membership. Brussels will decide in June whether to launch full membership negotiations with Albania.

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