TIRANA, ALBANIA, DEC. 26 -- Albania's ruling Communist Party named new members to its top leadership, but said it would stay committed to Marxism as it contests the country's first multiparty elections, set for Feb. 10.
Albanian radio said the policy-making Central Committee promoted five candidate members of the 13-member Politburo to full voting status and named nine new candidate members after President Ramiz Alia called for the appointment of "young and energetic people able to meet the new demands."
The conference, of more than 1,000 local party officials, agreed to promote reforms that would open the centralized economy to market forces, remove remaining restrictions on the practice of religion and improve human-rights standards. Alia said in a speech that his party had dumped four decades of Stalinism. Yet, while the new platform deviated "from many principles of socialism," he said, it would not abandon Marxist ideology. Alia defended his predecessor, Enver Hoxha -- an admirer of Stalin who died in 1985 -- saying "revanchist forces" were trying to destroy his name.
Alia welcomed competition from newly permitted opposition parties but, in an apparent reference to unprecedented antigovernment riots this month, said events had raised "tension, bewilderment and worry."
"Our people are not used to a free competition of different political parties," Alia said.