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Defence minister Kaikkonen to run for Centre Party chair post

The minister said he hopes that others will also run for the party's top spot.

Antti Kaikkonen
Antti Kaikkonen. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

Finland's Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen announced his candidacy as chair of the Centre Party.

Kaikkonen made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday, saying that he will stand in party elections in September.

The newly-elected minister said he thought about running for the party's top post long and hard, and that he is taking on the effort with "strong motivation."

He added that he hoped other candidates would also run for the job.

Kaikkonen, 45, was first elected to parliament in 2003 and acted as the Centre Party's parliamentary group chair during the Juha Sipilä administration, which came to an end this past spring, following parliamentary elections.

Sipilä was elected chair of the Centre Party in 2012, and was prime minister for four years after leading the party to victory in 2015 elections.

However, he announced shortly after the party's weak performance in this spring's elections that he would not seek re-election as party leader.

There is a blemish on Kaikkonen's record. In 2013 he was handed a five-month suspended prison sentence for abusing his position at the Finnish Youth Foundation to raise money for Centre Party candidates.

However, the Chancellor of Justice has said Kaikkonen's sentencing does not pose a legal obstacle to him serving in his ministerial post.

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