Capital Prishtina
Time Zone CET (GMT+1)
Country Code 377 (Monaco); 381 (Serbia)
Mobile Codes 44
Currency Euro
Land Area 10,908 sq km
Population 1.8 million
Language Albanian, Serbian, Turkish
Major Religions Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism

Early Elections in Kosovo Possible for February, Coalitions to Be Decided

By Chris Deliso in Skopje

The currently fractious political situation in Pristina may be resolved with new parliamentary elections as early as this coming February (but not during 2010) the country’s acting president, Jakup Krasniqi has stated. The acting president made the announcement after meeting with leaders of Kosovo political parties officially represented in parliament.

Kosovo has been affected by the September 27th resignation of its president, Fatmir Sejdiu. He quit after Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled that he could not simultaneously be both the national president and the head of a political party- in his case, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). The Economist recently noted that Sejdiu quit at the present moment because he may have aspirations to run against Thaci to be the next premier, since the position is more powerful than that of the presidency.

Although the parties reportedly differ over the actual ideal date for any elections, Pristina newspaper Koha Ditore cited Krasniqi as stating that Kosovo’s new assembly, its president, and the national president will be decided by March 28, 2011.

The acting president and the parties, it was also reported, seek to honor Kosovo’s Law on General Elections and the constitution, though some parties would like to see an early or mid-February vote and others would like to hold off until March. Nevertheless, in any case the Central Election Commission will have to be consulted as well. Krasniqi maintained that the CEC would prefer a date in early February. Now it remains only for next year’s budget to be decided, Koha Ditore also reported, for parliament to be dissolved. Kosovo’s international viceroy, Pieter Feith of the ICO, has also attested that dissolution is planned before year’s end.

Political pundits have begun expressing predictions for possible future coalitions. In one scenario, writes Pristina’s Zeri, the usually antagonistic Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and the currently opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) could join forces to make a ‘national unity’ government. Thaci has recently held a positive meeting with AAK leaders. Government spokesman Memli Krasniqi claims that PDK desires to put the interests of the citizens “above its own,” reports Zeri.

One uniting factor at the moment, which would play to Albanian nationalism, is the public’s strong reaction to the upcoming retrial of AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj by the Hague Tribunal (felt as far away as Tetovo in Macedonia, where the ostensibly apolitical Islamic Community of Macedonia organized a protest on 6 October). During the 1999 NATO bombardment, Haradinaj was KLA military leader and Thaci its political one. This close cooperation ended however after the war, when both sought careers in politics.

The Hague charged Haradinaj, then prime minister of war crimes in 2005, but acquitted the “war hero” in 2007. However, the prosecution won in its appeal to retry him on two counts. Haradinaj’s request for provisional release was denied on September 11th, after the court ruled that doing so “would pose a danger to witnesses and to the integrity of the retrial,” according to Southeast European Times.

Quoting the ICTY, the SET adds that Haradinaj now stands accused of participating “…in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at asserting full control in the KLA operational zone of Dukagjin, which allegedly was carried out by the unlawful removal and mistreatment of Serb civilians, Kosovar Albanians, Kosovar Roma and other civilians, who were, or were perceived to have been, collaborating with Serb forces or not supporting the KLA.”

Even though AAK member Margarita Kadriu stated for the media that Haradinaj’s “lack of presence” is a blow for Kosovo at an important moment in its state-building progress, he may even become more “present” as a result of his absence.

Various explanations have been given for the idea of why a “national unity” government coalition between rival parties might be envisioned. In one of the more interesting, Zeri cited political analyst Avni Zogiani as averring that PDK and the AAK will unite because the US wants a stronger and all-inclusive coalition to help force the restive Serb minority of the north to fall into line and accept Pristina rule.

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