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Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK

World: Europe

New PM for Albania

Mr Majko said in-fighting had stopped him from tackling Albania's problems

Albania's 30-year-old vice-premier, Ilir Meta, has won the endorsement of the country's ruling Socialist Party to become the country's new prime minister.

He takes over from Pandeli Majko, who resigned on Monday two weeks after losing the leadership of the Socialist Party.

Mr Meta beat the only one other candidate, Mekbule Cecosi, 67-46, in a vote by the party's leadership.

Albania's President Rexhep Meidani must approve Mr Meta's appointment, but his approval is only a formality.

He was expected to ask Mr Meta to form a new government later in the day.

Mr Meta - a trained economist and an amateur weightlifter - had been widely tipped to replace Mr Majko after veteran politician Fatos Nano said he was supporting his candidature.


Mr Majko was widely praised abroad for his handling of the crisis in neighbouring Kosovo but faced criticism at home for failing to combat widespread corruption and smuggling.

He said he was resigning to spare the country a bitter political battle after losing the Socialist Party leadership to Mr Nano, the very man whom Mr Majko as prime minster replaced last September.

A former student leader of the movement that brought down the Communists, Mr Majko had been seen as the standard-bearer of a new generation of Albanian politicians unencumbered by links to the old regime.

He became Europe's youngest premier when he took office on 2 October, 1998, at the age of 30. Albania has a comparatively young population, with some 60% of its people aged between 15 and 64.

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