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Albanian lawmakers approve prime minister’s female-dominated Cabinet

Albanian lawmakers have approved Prime Minister Edi Rama's Cabinet, five months after parliamentary elections that saw his Socialist Party secure a majority and Rama a third term in office.

Albanian lawmakers have approved Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Cabinet, five months after parliamentary elections that saw his Socialist Party secure a majority and Rama a third term in office.

In Friday’s early morning vote, 77 of 140 lawmakers voted to approve Rama’s Cabinet and legislative agenda, Top Channel television reported. Fifty-three voted against and one abstained.

The Socialists won an absolute majority in April’s parliamentary election, allowing them to govern alone.

Rama’s new government is conspicuous for its high proportion of women. Twelve of the 17 ministers – including the foreign minister – and state secretaries are women.

The foreign minister remains Olta Xhacka, who took over the post last January and was previously defence minister.

In a statement ahead of the vote, Rama said he had three priorities: infrastructure projects, combating the pandemic, and repairing the damage from a devastating earthquake that struck in late 2019.

“These are projects that are 100 per cent feasible,” he said.

Opposition leader Lulzim Basha of the right-wing Democratic Party (PD) accused Rama of “liquidating” democracy in Albania.

He referred to reports by international election observers who objected to state interference and incidents of vote-buying in the election campaign.

Despite the abuses, election observers found that Western-inspired reforms in recent years had made this year’s election cleaner than previous ones.

Rama, an academically trained artist, has been chairman of the Socialist Party since 2005. The 57-year-old has been prime minister since 2013. He was mayor of the capital, Tirana, from 2000 to 2011.

Albania, on south-eastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, has been a member of NATO since 2009 and is seeking European Union membership. Last year, the EU gave the green light for accession negotiations.

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