Albania to choose chief of defense as president

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TIRANA, June 3 (Reuters) - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Friday that his party has picked the country's chief of defense to be the new president after failing to choose a consensus candidate with the opposition.

Major General Bajram Begaj became chief of defense of Albanian armed forces in 2020 after holding different positions within the army, mainly in the field of medicine.

Rama said his party discussed 26 names, but finally decided that "Begaj is the right person to be the president of Albania for the next five years." Electing a new president had already failed during three rounds in which three-fifths of the votes are needed in the 140-seat parliament.

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In the last two rounds a simple majority is needed, and Rama's party already has 74 votes. The parliament is expected to convene on Saturday evening to vote the country’s new chief.

The role of president is largely symbolic, though it has some powers over the judiciary and the military.

Albania became a NATO member in 2009.

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Reporting by Fatos Bytyci and Florion Goga; Editing by Leslie Adler

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