Template:Infobox military conflict Template:History of Albania The 1997 unrest in Albania, also known as the Lottery Uprising or Anarchy in Albania, was an uprising sparked by Ponzi scheme failures. Albania descended into anarchy and violence in which the government was toppled and some 2,000 people were killed.
In the mid-1990s, Albania was becoming a liberalized economy after years under a controlled economy; the rudimentary financial system became dominated by Ponzi schemes, and government officials endorsed a series of pyramid investment funds. By January 1997, the schemes (actually fronts for laundering money and arms trafficking) could no longer make payments once the number of investors grew to include two-thirds of Albanians, who had been lured by the promise of getting rich quick.
By January 1997 the inevitable end came, and the people of Albania, who had lost $1.2 billion (out of a small population of three million), took their protest to the streets. Beginning in February, thousands of citizens launched daily protests demanding reimbursement by the government, which they believed was profiting from the schemes. On March 1, Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi resigned and on March 2 President Sali Berisha declared a state of emergency. On March 11, the Socialist Party of Albania won a major victory when their leader Bashkim Fino was appointed prime minister. However, the transfer of power did not halt the unrest, as protests spread to northern Albania. Although the government quelled revolts in the north, the ability of the government and military to maintain order began to collapse, especially in the southern half of Albania, which fell under the control of rebels and criminal gangs.
All major population centers were engulfed in demonstrations by March 13, and foreign countries began to evacuate their citizens from Albania. These evacuations included Operation Libelle and Operation Silver Wake.
The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1101, authorized a force of 7,000 on March 28 to direct relief efforts and to restore order to Albania. The UN feared the unrest would spread outside Albania's borders and contribute even more refugees to Europe. On April 15, the 7,000 troops launched Operation Sunrise, an Italian-led mission which helped restore rule of law to the country.
In elections in June and July 1997, Berisha and his party were voted out of power, and all UN forces left Albania by August 11. The Socialist party elected Rexhep Meidani as President of the Albanian Republic.
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