Albania elects a new president

Eighty-five out of 90 MPs vote for Bamir Topi from the ruling Democratic party.

    A former agriculture minister, Topi is well-liked according to numerous surveys [AFP]
    Elections to pick a new head of state to replace Alfred Moisiu, whose mandate as president ends on July 24, had already been postponed several times because of political bickering.

    Topi, a 50-year-old biology professor and deputy president of the Democratic party of Sali Berisha, Albania's prime minister, will succeed Moisiu for a five-year mandate.

    Under the Albanian constitution, a candidate has to win support from three-fifths of deputies in the 140-seat parliament, or 84 votes.

    If a president is not elected in five rounds of voting, parliament must be dissolved and early elections held.

    Delays

    This was the fourth attempt by the Albanian parliament to elect a new head of state, as Berisha's party and the opposition Socialist Party of Tirana mayor, Edi Rama, have for months failed to agree on a presidential candidate.

    The opposition had demanded the ruling party withdraw Topi's candidacy, insisting a future president should be from the left-wing bloc as Moisiu had been a right-wing candidate.

    The Socialists and their allies had urged their MPs to boycott the vote, but at least seven did not adhere to the calls.

    After the session, Berisha said: "I want to thank all deputies who have taken part in the vote to avoid the risk that early elections could bring to Albania."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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