Kosovo opposition triumphs over independence hero
Kosovo’s opposition parties have won the early general election in a shift away from politicians who are former independence fighters from the late 1990s.
Former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July to face interrogation by a war crimes tribunal in The Hague and his coalition secured a feeble 12 per cent of the vote.
He has been questioned over his role in the 1998-99 war as a Kosovo Liberation Army commander. He denies any wrongdoing.
Haradinaj campaigned on a 100-per-cent import tax he imposed on Serbian goods during 2018 in retaliation for Belgrade’s efforts to block Kosovo from joining international organisations.
It is the fourth election since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
The left-of-centre Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje) of Albin Kurti secured 26 per cent of the vote and the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), led by former prime minister Isa Mustafa, received 25-per-cent support.
There is talk of a coalition government between the two parties.
Minorities parties representing Serbs, Turks and Bosniaks together have 20 seats in the parliament.
In talks before the election, Vetevendosje and the LDK failed to agree on a coalition.
Both parties promise to boost employment and tackle crime and corruption.
Kurti said he would “knock on the LDK’s door” today (Monday) to start talks.
Speaker Kadri Veseli’s party came third with 21 per cent.
All major parties in the ethnic Albanian state demand unconditional recognition of independence from Serbia and reject the proposed land swap suggested in 2018 by the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo.
Vetevendosje is an anti-establishment Albanian nationalist movement and its parliamentarians have disrupted parliamentary sessions with tear gas. The LDK is Kosovo’s oldest party, hoping to install lawyer Vjosa Osmani as the isolated state’s first female premier.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his country was ready to resume the talks with any Kosovo government, assuming the trade tariffs were lifted.
Serbia says it will never recognise Kosovo as a country and it has the support of Russia and China. Moscow has blocked Kosovo from becoming a member of the United Nations and other international bodies. Kosovo is recognised by more than 100 countries, including the US and all but five EU member states, and its football team is currently trying to qualify for next year’s European Championships.