Sali Berisha, head of the Democratic Party that triumphed in last month's elections, Thursday became Albania's first non-Communist president since World War II.

In parliament, 96 lawmakers voted for him, 35 against and one vote was invalid. The necessary two-thirds majority was 94. Eight parliamentarians, including Berisha, were not present.Democratic deputies greeted Berisha's election with jubilation, flashing V-for-victory signs when speaker Pjeter Arbenori announced the outcome. From the galleries, spectators broke into cheers.

Berisha, 47, replaced Ramiz Alia, who resigned April 3 after his Socialist Party of former Communists was voted out of power in Europe's poorest and most backward nation.

Alia took over in April 1985 after the death of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, who had led a repressive Stalinist regime since 1944.

A cardiologist by profession, Berisha was a founding member of the Democratic party when it was formed in December 1990.