|1st President of Albania|
30 April 1991 – 3 April 1992
|Preceded by||Himself as Chairman of the Presidium of the People's Assembly|
|Succeeded by||Sali Berisha|
|Chairman of the Presidium of the Albanian People's Assembly|
22 November 1982 – 30 April 1991
|Leader||Enver Hoxha (First Secretary)|
|Preceded by||Haxhi Lleshi|
|Succeeded by||Himself as President|
|First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania|
13 April 1985 – 13 June 1991
|Preceded by||Enver Hoxha|
|Succeeded by||End of People's Republic of Albania|
|Born||18 October 1925|
Shkodër, Albanian Republic
|Died||7 October 2011 (aged 85)|
|Political party||Party of Labour (1961–1991)|
Socialist Party (1991–2011)
|Children||3 (Zana, Besa, Arben)|
Ramiz Tafë Alia (pronunciation (help·info); 18 October 1925 – 7 October 2011) was an Albanian politician serving as the second and last leader of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania from 1985 to 1991, serving as First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania. He was also the country's head of state from 1982 to 1992. He had been seen as a successor by Enver Hoxha and took power after Hoxha died.
Alia was born on 18 October 1925 in Shkodër to Muslim parents who fled from persecution in Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He grew up and spent his childhood in Tirana. In the early part of World War II Alia was a member of a fascist youth organisation known as the Fascist Lictor Youth Organisation but joined the underground Albanian Communist Youth Organisation in 1941. In 1943, he became a member of the Albanian Communist Party. He had risen rapidly under Hoxha's patronage, and was elected to the Central Committee in 1948, and in 1956 was named a candidate member of the Politburo. By 1961 he was made a full member of the Politburo (Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania). Alia distinguished himself as the chief ideologist in the social and cultural fields for the Party of Labour of Albania, specifically during the years of the Cultural and Ideological Revolution.
Although Hoxha never designated an official successor, there were clear signs that he favoured Alia. In introducing Alia to one of his doctors, Hoxha said "My friend, I'm getting old, and my health is not the best it could be. Younger comrades, like this one [Alia], will step in."
After World War II, Alia resumed his duties in the Communist Youth Organisation, and at the First Congress of the Albanian Party of Labour in November 1948, he was elected to its Central Committee and was assigned to the department of agitation and propaganda.
As late as 1988, Alia had continued insisting that Hoxha was the only statesman in decades who stayed loyal to Marxism-Leninism, claiming in his speech at the unveiling of Hoxha's statue in Skanderbeg Square: "Enver Hoxha has been and remains to this day the only name among the communist leaders of the last 4-5 decades who defended the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, the ideals of the revolution and socialism, both in theory and practice."
Despite Alia's efforts to proceed with change on a limited, cautious basis, reform from above threatened to turn into reform from below, largely because of the increasingly vocal demands of Albania's youth. On 9 December 1990, student demonstrators marched from the Enver Hoxha University (now University of Tirana) at Tirana through the streets of the capital shouting slogans and demanding reforms. By 11 December, the number of participants had reached almost 3,000. In an effort to quell the student unrest, which had led to clashes with riot police, Alia met with the students and agreed to take further steps toward democratization. The students informed Alia that they wanted to create an independent political organisation of students and youth. Alia's response was that such an organisation had to be registered with the Ministry of Justice.
In his traditional New Year's message to the Albanian people, Alia welcomed the changes that had been occurring in the country and claimed that 1991 would be a turning point in terms of the economy.
Alia was a crucial figure in the peaceful political transition of the early 1990s. Many believe that he helped the rise to power of the anti-communist opposition forces, thus eliminating possible bloodshed. He managed to remain a key political figure throughout several political crises. Nonetheless, with Albania in the throes of a grave economic crisis, Alia had to face challenges that he could not surmount. On 12 December 1990, he signed a law allowing political pluralism, on which he would later comment as his life's greatest failure. In the 1991 elections, the first democratic elections in the country, where Alia ran for Member of National Parliament in a constituency in the capital, which was a stronghold of the communist party, he was badly defeated by a surprising majority of 61% by the renowned mining engineer in the country, Franko Kroqi. Kroqi ran as a candidate of the newly formed Democratic Party of Albania, although he never became a party member.
After this loss, and later on the Democratic Party of Albania's (DPA) landslide victory in the spring 1992 general election, he resigned as president on 3 April 1992. On 9 April the People's Assembly elected DPA leader Sali Berisha as Albania's new head of state.
On 21 May 1994, senior officials from the Communist government, including Ramiz Alia, went on trial. Alia was charged with abuse of power and misappropriation of state funds, as was prime minister Adil Carçani, deputy prime minister Manush Myftiu, and Rita Marko who was a vice-president.
Alia had been placed under house arrest in August 1992 and his detention was converted into imprisonment in August 1993. In court he claimed he was the victim of a political show trial and demanded that the trial be broadcast on television, a request denied by the presiding judge. The trial was monitored by a Human Rights Watch representative and proceeded with only minor due process irregularities. The ten defendants were found guilty as charged and sentenced to between three and nine years in prison; Alia received a nine-year sentence.
A court of appeals subsequently reduced some of the sentences, notably Alia's to five years. Alia, Myftiu, Carçani, Stefani and Isai were also ordered to repay various sums to the state. On 30 November, the Court of Cassation reduced Alia's term by an additional three years. On 7 July 1995, Ramiz Alia was freed from jail. However, his freedom was short-lived and in 1996 he was charged with committing crimes against humanity during his term, and was imprisoned anew in March. The trial against him began on 18 February 1997, but he escaped from the prison following the unrest in the country and the desertion of the guards. Amid the unrest he appeared on State TV in an exclusive interview with Blendi Fevziu. In the late 2000s he was sometimes seen travelling to Albania from Dubai to give interviews or publicise his books. In December 1997, he returned to Albania after escaping briefly to France to join his family during the Albanian Civil War.
Alia died on 7 October 2011 in Tirana, Albania, 11 days before his 86th birthday.
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