Ramiz Alia, born in 1925, president of Albania (1985-1992). He was born in Shkodër. During World War II (1939-1945), he attained the rank of political commissar, charged with maintaining Communist principles in the Fifth Army, the highest unit of Albania's National Liberation Army. His political career started in 1955 as the first secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Youth. He later became Albania's minister of education. At the Fourth Congress of the Albanian Party of Labor (APL), or Workers' Party, in 1961, he was elected a member of the Politburo, the Communist Party's highest office.

After the shakeup following the suicide of Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu in 1981, Alia became the chosen successor of Enver Hoxha, the Stalinist dictator who ruled Albania for four decades. Alia acquired the title of head of state in 1982. After Hoxha's death in 1985, Alia assumed real power as the first secretary of the APL. In 1990, after the collapse of Communist governments across Eastern Europe and widespread protests in Albania, Alia allowed some political opposition. His popularity soared when he broke rank with Communist hard-liners by easing travel, religion, speech, and political restrictions. Alia's reforms eventually led to multiparty elections and the end of the Communist hold on power in Albania. Alia announced his resignation on April 3, 1992, on the eve of the second round of multiparty elections in which the Albanians elected a non-Communist parliament. In August 1993 Alia was placed under house arrest and charged with abuse of power and violation of citizens' civil rights. In a May 1994 trial, he was found guilty and given a nine-year sentence.

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