Anneli Ott has been appointed secretary general of the Center Party, replacing Andre Hanimägi. Ott's appointment came as the party elected a new leader, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart.
Ott, a former culture minister, starts in her new post next Monday.
Center's newly-elected leader Mihhail Kõlvart said of Ott's appointment that the party, which he said is Estonia's largest, needs a "full-time CEO."
Kõlvart said: "I am delighted that Anneli Ott is ready to bear this responsibility. Anneli, as the secretary general of the Center Party, will be able successfully to apply the experience she has gained as an MP, a minister and as head of Center's Võru County branch."
Kõlvart replaces former prime minister Jüri Ratas, who had opted not to seek reelection at the end of his term.
Ott herself said her first priority would be to ensure internal harmony within the party and to raise its visibility across the country. "Naturally, bit changes bring out different emotions. I too will have a period of integration. The first task will of course involved communication with party members, but definitely also launching new works and plans," she said.
Mihhail Kõlvart praised Andre Hanimägi's work over the past two-and-a-half years, saying he had taken on the role at a difficult time and had effectively run the 2021 local government election and 2023 Riigikogu election campaigns.
Hanimägi was one of Tanel Kiik's backers for the Center leadership position, a race which Kõlvart won following a vote at the party's congress held in Paide on Sunday.
Following Kõlvart's election as Center leader, the party's board confirmed on Monday the vice chairs proposed by Kõlvart, namely: Lauri Laats, former minister Jaak Aab, Yana Toom – the party's sole MEP – and Jaan Toots
Kõlvart added that while he would have liked Tanel Kiik as one of those vice chairs, the party's statutes prevent that.
Kõlvart noted Center's inclusiveness across all regions of Estonia as one of the party's watchwords.
Anneli Ott has been a member of the Center Party for over a decade.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov