Albanian PM announces mini cabinet reshuffle

Albanian PM announces mini cabinet reshuffle
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje December 29, 2020

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reshuffled his cabinet on December 29 following the resignation of acting foreign minister Gent Cakaj.

The changes in the cabinet were announced four months before the April 25 general elections in the country. 30-year-old Cakaj was appointed foreign minister by Rama in January 2019, as part of a government reshuffle involving eight of 14 ministers, but President Ilir Meta refused to approve the appointment saying that Cakaj did not meet the requirements to be a foreign minister. Following the rejection, Rama took the position of foreign minister and Cakaj served as acting minister.

In the latest reshuffle, Olta Xhacka, who previously served as defence minister, was appointed as the new foreign minister, while Niko Peleshi was appointed as the new defence minister. Peleshi served as agriculture minister from September 2017 to January 2019 and deputy prime minister from September 2013 to May 2017.

“I would like to inform you that today, December 29, I presented to the PM Edi Rama, the irrevocable resignation and with immediate effect as acting minister for Europe and foreign affairs of Albania,” Cakaj said in a Facebook post.

“Following the very successful completion of the OSCE chairmanship, the expected launch of EU membership negotiations, the extraordinary work to secure a seat on the Security Council for 2022-2023, the implementation of a series of unprecedented measures to raise the Albanian factor in the Western Balkans, as well as the fact that Albania is on the eve of the election campaign, where I do not intend to engage as a candidate for MP, I consider the chapter of my service at the top of Albanian diplomacy is completed,” Cakaj stressed.

In a tweet Cakaj said that there were various reasons for his resignation, but he did not elaborate.

Rama thanked Cakaj for heading the foreign ministry and announced that he will return to the cabinet.

“After the great work with dedication and professionalism of Gent Cakaj as acting minister, this is the moment to jointly pass the duty to Olta Xhacka as minister for Europe and foreign affairs. Meanwhile, Niko Peleshi will head the Ministry of Defence,” Rama said in a tweet .

In September, Rama announced the first changes in the cabinet ahead of the April elections as Besa Shahini was replaced as education ministerby Evis Kushi.

Earlier this month, Rama accepted the resignation of interior minister Sander Lleshi after the police killing of a young man sparked protests. Lleshi was replaced by Bledi Cuci, the former agriculture minister, whose former post was taken by Milva Ekonomi.