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Albanian exodus, anarchy continue

The streets of the Albanian capital were quiet Sunday as the wild gunfire that erupted three days ago subsided and militia armed by the authorities patrolled the city.

A defiant President Sali Berisha issued a statement saying he would not resign before parliamentary elections to be held by June and would step down then only if his party lost in the polls.

But as an artificial calm hovered over Tirana _ pierced Sunday night by the crackle of automatic fire _ the rest of the country remained out of government control, given over to the anarchy of looters, vandals and armed gangs.

In the port of Durres on Sunday morning uniformed police officers, who had been cajoled back to work with a promise of dramatic pay increases, fired over the heads of more than 1,000 bedraggled people who tried to force their way onto a dock and commandeer a vessel to get to Italy.

One persistent man paddled out to sea on a piece of board. About a dozen others scrambled aboard a rowboat and set off.

Some of those repulsed from the dock said they had spent four days and nights waiting for a vessel that never came. They said they feared continuing anarchy in Albania and had little future at home after losing their livelihoods in the fraudulent financial schemes that have left so many Albanians bankrupt. The collapse of the schemes two months ago sparked the revolt that has culminated in chaos.

To help restore order, the European Union agreed Sunday to send military and police advisers to Tirana. But the union's foreign ministers, meeting in the Netherlands, stressed that it would be a low-key mission, one that Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind of Britain described as "working behind the scenes." The advisers would number in the "dozens only."

This appeared to be much less of an effort than that envisaged by an emissary of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Franz Vranitzky, a former chancellor of Austria. He called on Friday for a quick dispatch of soldiers to help the Albanians collect weapons from armed civilians.