Kosovo’s caretaker governing party holds peaceful rally

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A few thousand supporters of Kosovo’s left-wing governing party surrounded government buildings Thursday to oppose the nomination of a new prime minister by the small Balkan country’s president.

The participants maintained social distancing and wore masks and gloves during the demonstration around the parliament, main government and presidential buildings in Pristina. A big poster at the rally read, “We want elections.”

A spokesman for the Self-Determination Movement, or Vetevendosje!, Arlind Manxhuka, said the rally was intended to illustrate the party’s ability to assemble a protest crowd while respecting the conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci last month nominated a politician from the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, to replace Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

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Kurti has led a caretaker government since he lost a no-confidence vote in late March initiated by the LDK, which at the time was the junior partner in a coalition government with Vetevendosje!

Vetevendosje! argues that the presidential decree nominating Avdullah Hoti to become prime minister is unconstitutional, claiming it is the only party entitled to form a new Cabinet because it won the most seats in Kosovo’s parliamentary election in October.

The party argues that if it is unable to put together a government, the country should have another election. Hoti’s LDK says it has the required number of votes, at least 61 in the 120-seat parliament, for his confirmation.

Kosovo’s Constitutional Court has suspended the nomination decree until May 29.

Kosovo was part of Serbia until an armed separatist uprising in 1998-1999 triggered a bloody Serb crackdown. A NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to withdraw its troops and ended the war.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia refuses to recognize its former province as a country.

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