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Estonia's foreign minister steps down to run for president

Associated Press Associated Press 9/09/2016

TALLINN, Estonia — Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand is stepping down to run as an independent in the Baltic country's presidential election later this month.

Kaljurand said Friday her resignation was necessary when running against former prime minister and EU Commissioner Siim Kallas, who is the candidate of the ruling Reform Party.

Seasoned diplomat Kaljurand, 54, has no party affiliation but is known to hold close ties to the Reform Party, the key pillar in Estonia's center-right, three-party coalition government.

An electoral college consisting of lawmakers and local representatives will gather to pick new head of state, a mostly ceremonial position, on Sept. 24 as the Parliament failed to elect a replacement to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves in August.

Kaljurand enjoys wide support according to opinion polls and is considered to be favorite against Kallas and other contenders.

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