Letter: Vote for King Leka

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Whether D Cooke or D Bishop (letters 10, 12 February) regards Leka Zogu as King of the Albanians is irrelevant. What matters is whether Albanians believe he is, and it appears that they do. In the 1997 referendum on restoring the monarchy the socialist interim Prime Minister announced that on the basis of exit polls the pro-monarchy vote was 53 per cent. However, the much-delayed count showed 33 per cent in favour of Leka becoming head of state, which led international observers to conclude that the ballot had been tampered with.

King Zog can hardly be accused of overthrowing the government and declaring himself King. When the National Assembly proclaimed him as such in April 1928 he had already been head of state as President for over three years. Perhaps D Bishop believes that by some extraordinary political contortionism Zog overthrew himself.

Under Zog's rule Albania's agriculture flourished, the oil and mining industries were developed, ports, roads, bridges and electricity installations were constructed, a gendarmerie was trained by British officers, and compulsory education introduced for girls as well as boys - an innovation in a Muslim country. D Bishop refers to the dreadful suffering of the Albanian people, but omits mentioning that it was the republican government under Enver Hoxha which plunged Albania back into the poverty from which Zog had done so much to rescue it.

It is grossly unfair to criticise Leka for not having lived in Albania. For most of his life it has been under Italian wartime occupation or controlled by history's most repressive Communist regime, and even recent so-called democratic governments have refused to allow him to take up residence in the land of his birth.



The Monarchist League

London WC1