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Albania Gets Pitch For Monarchy Self-Proclaimed King, Son Of Former Ruler, Has Little Support

Thousands of people welcomed the would-be king of Albania on Saturday as he stopped in a northern town in his campaign to revive the monarchy.

About 5,000 people cheered Leka Zogu, and aides presented the son of Albania’s former king as the guarantor of normalcy in a country scarred by anarchy.

“The king brings peace and stability to Albania,” aide Abedin Mulosmani said. “You must trust that the king and the monarchy will be the most appropriate way” to lead the country out of turmoil.

The self-proclaimed King Leka, 58, who has lived in exile since infancy, returned to Albania on April 12 with the hope that the unrest that began with popular outrage over savings lost in failed investment schemes would translate into support to revive the monarchy.

But a recent trip to Vlora, the cradle of the armed insurrection that sprung from investors’ anger, showed people in the south no more willing to accept Leka as their king than they are to reconcile with President Sali Berisha.

Northerners, who enjoyed blooming trade with Yugoslavia to the north under Leka’s father, are more supportive of the monarchy. Still, there is generally little backing for a restoration of royal rule.

Albania hasn’t had a monarch since 1939.