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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Former general elected Albanian president
Alfred Moisiu
Moisiu was the second candidate leaders agreed on
Albania's parliament has voted to accept the only candidate put forward as the country's new president - former general Alfred Moisiu.


We intend to correct the mistakes of the past - the collaboration with the Socialist Party is guaranteed

Sali Berisha
Democratic Party
Leaders of the ruling Socialist Party and the country's main opposition Democratic Party picked Mr Moisiu as a compromise choice after months of political infighting.

The Socialist leader Fatos Nano had himself wanted to stand, but faced fierce resistance from his long time foe, Democratic Party head and former president Sali Berisha.

Both men were urged by Western officials to resolve their differences and put an end to the growing political instability caused by their wrangling, or risk damaging Albania's efforts to join the European Union.

Persistent feuds have hindered lawmakers pursuing the political and economic measures widely deemed necessary to reform the country, one of the poorest in Europe.

Rare consensus

The parties had initially agreed on Friday to support the country's current ambassador to Brussels, Artur Kuko.

Fatos Nano
Nano had wanted the job for himself
But Mr Kuko rejected the offer, sparking intense speculation in the Albanian media that he had been put under pressure from the country's secret police service not to accept.

The consensus that was found to back Mr Kuko was a rare example of co-operation between Mr Nano and Mr Berisha. The men's long feud includes Mr Berisha's jailing of Mr Nano during the 1990s.

"The decision was taken to improve the political climate, secure stability and guarantee the continuation of Albania's integration into Europe," the two leaders said in a joint statement.

BBC regional analyst Genc Lamani says it remains to be seen whether the compromise heralds the start of a new era in Albanian politics, or whether it is a purely temporary expedient.

Their agreement means it is very likely that parliament will accept the 74-year-old Mr Moisiu as the next president.

If elected, he will take over from Rexhep Meidani, whose five years in the largely ceremonial post are drawing to a close.

Mr Moisiu was the country's defence minister until 1981, before being sacked for treason by the country's communist dictator Enver Hoxha.

He served as defence minister again after free election in 1991, and later held the post of deputy defence minister between 1992 and 1997 when Mr Berisha was president.

See also:

29 Jan 02 | Europe
24 Jan 02 | Europe
27 Oct 99 | Europe
03 Jan 02 | Country profiles
19 Oct 01 | Americas
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