TIRANA, Albania: After no candidates were nominated following three rounds of voting this weekend, Albania’s parliament elected top military official Bajram Begaj as the country’s new president.
Begaj, 55, was elected after the 140-seat parliament voted 78 in favor of his candidacy, four against and one abstained.
After failing to reach a compromise with the opposition on a replacement for President Ilir Meta, and no independent candidate was nominated, the governing left-wing Socialist Party nominated Begaj.
Most opposition lawmakers boycotted the voting.
While the five-year presidency has a largely ceremonial role, Begaj becomes post-communist Albania’s eighth president and the third elected from its military ranks.
The president, who holds some authority over the judiciary and the armed forces, and is limited to two terms in office, is expected to stand above partisan political divisions.
Begaj was elected among six candidates, Socialist party leader and Prime Minister Edi Rama said, adding that no candidates from the governing majority were taken into consideration.
“We gave Albania a normal president, an indisputable personality in his integrity, humanity and commitment for the country and its people,” he said.
Begaj has held the position of army chief-of-staff since July 2020.
The EU, the U.S. and other Western countries sent their congratulations to Begaj on his election.
On Twitter, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote, “We look forward to working together for a prosperous, secure and solid EU-#Albania relationship, as members of one European family.”