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Albanian Parliament fails to elect president for 3rd time

Associated Press logo Associated Press 27/04/2017 By LLAZAR SEMINI, Associated Press

TIRANA, Albania — The Albanian Parliament on Thursday failed for the third time to elect the country's new president because no candidates have been nominated.

The governing left-wing coalition didn't put up any candidates, saying it wants to include the center-right opposition in reaching a broader consensus. The same thing happened twice last week.

But the Socialist Party says Parliament shouldn't wait any longer to elect a new president since the opposition has refused to participate in any dialogue.

The Socialists' smaller ally, the Socialist Movement for Integration, or LSI, has tried to mediate without making any progress. The party's leader, Ilir Meta, is Parliament speaker.

The opposition has boycotted meetings of Parliament since February. It is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama ahead of a June 18 parliamentary election, claiming that the sitting Cabinet will manipulate the vote.

A recent visit by European parliamentarians failed to convince the opposition to change its stance. The opposition refused Wednesday to participate in a round table of parliament's political parties.

"We either elect the new president, or let's go to early elections in 45 days as the Constitution defines," said Gramoz Ruci, leader of the Socialists' parliamentary group.

The parliament's leadership plans to hold the fourth round of voting for the new president on Friday afternoon. The fifth and final vote may be held the same day if there is no winner.

The Socialist Party confirmed that LSI has proposed nominating both Meta, the Parliament speaker, and Justice Minister Petrit Vasili as candidates in Friday's vote. The Socialist Party "unanimously decided to support Meta."

Albania's president occupies a largely ceremonial role and is limited to two five-year terms. Candidates are proposed by a group of at least 20 lawmakers in the 140-seat Parliament.

Now that there have been three failed rounds, a candidate can be elected by a simple majority, or at least 71 votes.

The two main parties, the Socialists and the LSI, hold 78 seats combined.

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