Kosovo Parliament Elects Speaker, Moves Closer To Political Settlement
Albanian Daily News
Published September 7, 2017
Kosovo's parliament has elected Kadri Veseli of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) as speaker, paving the way for lawmakers to approve a prime minister in the country's efforts to end a monthslong political crisis.
Veseli, who heads a three-party coalition in the small Balkan country, was elected speaker on September 7 by a vote of 62-52. Following the vote, President Hashim Thaci officially gave the mandate to former guerrilla commander and ex-Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to form a new government.
The move comes days after the PDK agreed to a deal with the junior New Alliance for Kosovo party to form a government, potentially ending the political crisis sparked by inconclusive elections on June 11.
The September 4 accord gave the coalition, which includes the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) along with ethnic minorities, 63 of parliament's 120 seats.
The Veseli bloc, dominated by former fighters against Serbian rule, was able to secure the parliamentary majority and the right to form a government through a deal with ethnic Serb lawmakers of the Lista Srpska party.
A party official said Lista Srpska lawmakers committed to back the vote for the speaker but said it would decide "following consultations" with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and other Serbian officials whether to support a new government.
Kosovo, a country of 1.8 million people, 90 percent of whom are ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
The independence has been recognized by more than 110 countries, including big Western powers, but not by Serbia or Russia.
The ruling coalition backs Thaci who, as expected, nominated AAK leader Haradinaj as prime minister and gave him the formal mandate to form a government -- a move now likely to be approved by the Veseli-led parliament.
Thaci headed the PDK before he resigned as required to assume the presidency.
Haradinaj, himself a former guerrilla commander in the battle for independence, twice has stood trial before the United Nations war crimes court for former Yugoslavia and was acquitted.
He is still wanted by Belgrade under charges including murder and torture during and after the 1998-99 war in Kosovo, which led to NATO air strikes that helped the Kosovars drive Serbian forces out of the country.
Haradinaj briefly held the prime minister post in 2005.
"Finally, Kosovo has started to move...We had some big delays and our institutions now will be formed," Haradinaj said after the coalition deal reached on September 4.
There are about 120,000 ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and most of them, mainly in the north, oppose the Pristina authorities.
Kosovar Albanians oppose greater autonomy for Serb-dominated municipalities, saying that this would give Belgrade more influence in the country.
The European Union has pushed for Kosovo and Serbia to normalize ties, hosting a meeting late last month in Brussels between Thaci andr Vucic.
(Source: Radio Free Europe)