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Sali Berisha announced today he was stepping down as president, fulfilling a pre-election promise and clearing the way for his Socialist Party opponents to try to end Albania's anarchy.

Berisha announced his long-expected resignation in a radio broadcast slightly more than an hour before a new Socialist-dominated Parliament convened.

"I declare my irrevocable resignation from the post of head of state," Berisha said.

He will remain in Parliament as head of a weakened Democratic Party, which previously dominated this small Balkan country, and said he would fight for a free-market system and Albania's acceptance into Western defense and economic organizations.

Berisha and the Democrats suffered a huge loss of popularity because of the perception that they had profited from shaky investment schemes that collapsed early this year, taking the savings of many Albanians.

Berisha's resignation clears the way for Fatos Nano and his Socialists to choose the president.

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