Albania's first post-communist prime minister Fatos Nano is fighting for his life in the hospital

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's first post-communist prime minister, Fatos Nano, was in a hospital and fighting for his life, the current prime minister’s office said Thursday.

Nano, 70, has been in intensive care at a private hospital in the capital, Tirana, for the past week, being treated for problems with his lungs.

Nano was the founder of the governing Socialist Party in 1991 after the breakup of the former communist party that ran Albania’s dictatorship after World War 2. He also served briefly as prime minister for four months in 1991.

Nano's successor, Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, was praying “at these difficult hours of the fight for his life, the Socialist Party’s historic leader," he wrote on Facebook.

On Thursday, Rama awarded Nano one of Albania's highest honors, the Great Cordon with the Star of Public Appreciation, “for his distinguished contribution to the construction of the constitutional and democratic state in Albania, the liberal trend in his leadership and exemplary tolerance in the extremely difficult moments of the national political life, but also his personal life, his decisive role in the social efforts for the country’s future.”

In 1993 Nano was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges of falsifying documents and misappropriating funds, but his conviction was overturned after his release, based on insufficient evidence.

By 1997, Albania was in almost total anarchy following the collapse of failed pyramid investment schemes where poor Albanians lost their life savings.

There were no guards at Nano's prison, so he broke out. He was formally pardoned a few days later by the president at the time, Sali Berisha.

Nano served as Prime Minister in 1997-1998 and again in 2002-2005. He resigned as party leader after losing the 2005 election and was replaced by Rama.

Afterwards, Nano was reluctant to get involved in politics.