Albania finally gets a new president

By bne IntelliNews June 12, 2012

bne -

In the fourth round of voting, Albania's parliament finally managed to elect a new president on June 11, albeit one not supported by the opposition.

Lawmakers elected government nominee Bujar Nishani, a former interior minister and member of the ruling Democratic Party, as president, with the appointment pushed through by the ruling party. Nishani was elected with 73 votes out of 76 cast in a secret ballot in the 140-seat parliament; the main opposition Socialist Party did not vote, Reuters reported.

Three previous parliamentary sessions failed to gather the three-fifths majority required to elect a candidate to the largely ceremonial post of president. The fourth round needed only a simple majority, which the Democrat-led government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha holds.

Government and opposition leaders have traded accusations of sabotage throughout the election process, with each accusing the other of harming the country's EU membership bid, which Brussels will review again in October.

The EU has called for greater democratic maturity in Albania. The EU and Albania concluded a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), seen as the first step towards membership, in June 2006.

Albania's president is mainly a ceremonial post, but does have the power to hold up legislation and appoints the head of the secret service and the prosecutor general.

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