Kosovo government overturned by censure motion

The LDK, a minority party in Albin Kurti’s government coalition, voted a censure motion against its own team in Kosovo’s parliament on Wednesday. The country finds itself without direction in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.

Less than two months after coming to power, the coalition government at the head of Kosovo was overthrown on Wednesday (March 25th) by a vote of no confidence. The censure motion was introduced by the minority party in the government coalition led by Prime Minister Albin Kurti, leader of the leftist nationalist party Vetevendosje, who came to power on the promise to end the reign of elites accused of corruption. After a dozen hours of debate, the censure motion presented by the center-right LDK obtained 82 votes out of 120.

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For several days, many residents of the former Serbian province where the health services are sorely lacking in resources have been baking pots and pans on their balconies to protest the political crisis. At the opening of the session, a protester had defied the curfew against the new coronavirus to display a banner in front of the parliament which read: “The most dangerous pandemic for Kosovo is politics. Shame to you !”

The Prime Minister and his supporters claim to be victims of the maneuvers of President Hashim Thaci, a former guerrilla and central figure in Kosovar politics since the war of independence in 1998-99. The October legislative elections had consecrated the defeat of the PDK’s independence veterans, but the mandate of President Thaci, their leader, does not end until 2021.

Territory exchange project with Serbia

Albin Kurti accused the president of orchestrating the political crisis to keep his hands on business and finalize a project, supported by the United States, for the exchange of territories with Serbia. This project would see a modification of the borders between Kosovo and Serbia, which never recognized the independence of its former province proclaimed in 2008.

Albin Kurti categorically opposes such a scenario, just as he has refused to bow to intense pressure from Washington to fully lift 100% taxes on Serbian products, the main obstacle to the resumption of dialogue with Belgrade.

What will happen now? According to the Constitution, the president could give Albin Kurti or a representative of the LDK a new mandate to form a government or dissolve the parliament, which would lead to early elections.

State of Emergency Debate

The LDK initiated censorship of its own government, a first in the history of the unstable young democracy of 1.8 million inhabitants, to protest against the dismissal of one of its ministers by Albin Kurti. The minister in question said he was in favor of the state of emergency desired by President Thaci to fight the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, which officially infected more than 70 people and left one dead.

Albin Kurti was against such an exceptional measure, which would have conferred on the “Serpent”, as Hashim Thaci was nicknamed during the war, powers much more important than his current ceremonial role.

On Tuesday, Paris and Berlin had thus called on Kosovo to give up the vote, judging that the territory needed “a stable and fully operational government to face the crisis”. The US ambassador to Kosovo, on the contrary, said he was “happy” with the election.

With AFP

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