On Monday, the Kosovo government decided to restrict the movement of citizens as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The decision prompted reactions against from President Hashim Thaçi, coalition ally Democratic League of Kosovo and opposition parties, all of which said it violated that constitution.
Last night the government decided to “prohibit the circulation of citizens and private vehicles starting from March 24, 2020, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and from 8:00 pm – 6:00 pm except for medical needs, production, supply and sale of essential goods […] and for services and activities related to pandemic management.”
It also stated people cannot walk in pairs, they should keep a distance of two meters, rallies are prohibited, and participation in funerals is limited to family members.
The government has relied on Art.41.2 of the Law on Preventing and Fighting Contagious Diseases, which states that it can restrict circulation “in regions that have been infected or are directly threaten”.
In a late press conference at 11pm on Monday, President Thaçi stated the government decision was against constitution and urged citizens and institutions not to comply.
On Tuesday, Thaçi announced he asked the Constitutional Court to declare the decision unconstitutional. He argued that such restrictions can only be imposed under a state of emergency, which should be approved in parliament. He again called on citizens, police and other institutions that they don’t have to comply with the government decision.
Acting Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla slammed Thaçi’s call for disobedience, adding that the government has acted in accordance with the constitution.
The coalition ally Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), and opposition’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) also opposed the decision as unconstitutional, arguing it should pass parliamentary vote. They considered it to be out of political interest and not out of concern for public interest.
The Kosovo government has declared a “state of public health emergency” last week. President Thaçi’s request to parliament to impose a “state of emergency”, which gives him more power to manage the situation, triggered a crisis. Prime Minister Albi Kurti opposed Thaçi’s request but coalition ally LDK supported it. Kurti fired his Minister of Interior from the LDK, and the latter brought a motion of no confidence against him in parliament. All opposition parties support the ousting of Kurti, but the motion has not passed a parliamentary vote yet.