Today 89 out of 120 members of Kosovo’s parliament, voted to dissolve parliament, clearing the way for President Hashim Thaçi to call a snap election following the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
Haradinaj resigned on 19 July following his summons to The Hague for questioning over alleged war crimes committed by fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army, over twenty years ago. This is the third time that the former officer and leader of the KLA has been a war crimes suspect, but previous allegations were found to be baseless and he was previously acquitted twice on all counts.
He claimed that whilst he is innocent, he did not want to be questioned whilst still being Prime Minister, preferring instead to be questioned as a citizen.
Now, following the dissolution of parliament, the countdown to the general election begins and must occur within 45 days.
But even before the clock started ticking, alliances were being forged, deals were being made, and unlikely ideological matches were being forged in a hope of candidates improving their prospects of election.
Earlier this week. Haradinaj struck a pact between his center-right Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) party and the centre-left Social Democrat Party (PSD), led by Shpend Ahmeti, the Mayor of Pristina.
Rumor has it that even the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) is negotiating the possibility of an opposition alliance with the Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (LVV) party, headed by Albin Kurti.
According to a survey by the Slovenia-based International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES), Kurti is set to be the next Prime Minister of the country with his LVV party in first place, opposition LDK in second, followed by the recent government coalition allies– President Thaçi’s PDK and PM Haradinaj’s AAK.
Vetëvendosje (Movement for Self-Determination) party is a progressive, social-democratic, Albanian nationalist party. It supports close collaboration between Kosovo and Albania toward a unification of both countries.
The party believes that any dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo should be based on reciprocity and more in depth talks that go further than what Serbia and the internationals have suggested so far.
When Haradinaj’s government imposed the 100% import tariff on Serbian products, Kurti stated that the tariffs will have a positive impact, adding that it was a “desperate act”, and that the first step should have been to boycott the country’s products.
Prime Minister Haradinaj introduced the tariffs on November 22, 2018, one day after Serbia successfully lobbied to deny Kosovo for the third time membership of INTERPOL. This added to previous successful lobbying to let Kosovo out of UNESCO, as well as lobbying other states to withdraw recognitions of Kosovo’s statehood.
Haradinaj resisted pressure by the US, EU and European governments demanding him to drop the tariffs. He asked for reciprocity from Serbia, and for the Serbian government to stop its campaign to undermine Kosovo’s statehood.
The US Embassy in Pristina praised the result of today’s vote, saying that candidates could offer “fresh ideas on talks with Serbia, rule of law, and economic development”.
President Thaçi said in a press release that he will soon make a decision on the election date.
Following Haradinaj’s resignation, whose AAK party was in a governing coalition with Thaçi’s PDK, the latter tried to avoid snap elections and get the numbers in parliament to elect a new prime minister.
Local media in Kosovo reported that Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama was actively involved in attempts to persuade opposition parties to avoid snap elections and form a new government, but was ultimately ignored.
President Thaçi fears a backlash from voters as a result of the alleged Thaçi–Vučić–Rama initiative to reach an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo through exchange of territories.