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Kosovo heads for snap polls after top court brings down government

By AFP
22 December 2020   |   12:16 pm
Kosovo was preparing for a snap poll Tuesday after its top court annulled a vote that installed Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, fuelling further turmoil in the crisis-hit democracy.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2020 Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti reacts during a press conference with Kosovo’s President in Pristina following their meeting for the resumed Pristina – Belgrade dialogue on the normalisation of the diplomatic relations. – Kosovo was preparing to call a snap poll Tuesday after its top court ruled last year’s election of Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti was unconstitutional, delivering fresh upheaval to the democracy’s crisis-hit politics. (Photo by Armend NIMANI / AFP)

Kosovo was preparing for a snap poll Tuesday after its top court annulled a vote that installed Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, fuelling further turmoil in the crisis-hit democracy.

The constitutional court said the June parliamentary vote that ended a months-long political crisis was invalid as one of the MPs who gave Hoti’s government a razor-thin majority had earlier been convicted for fraud.

No government has finished its full term in the former Serbian province since it declared independence in 2008.

“Considering that the Government was not elected according to…the Constitution,” the country’s president now “announces elections,” said the court verdict published late Monday.

President Vjosa Osmani was expected to invite political parties for “consultations on the date of the early elections,” her office told local media.

The poll must be held within 40 days after it is announced, according to the constitution.

Early elections have become routine in Kosovo, eroding public faith in a political class that lurches from crisis to crisis while neglecting pressing issues from widespread poverty to a patchy healthcare system.

Presidential drama
Hoti’s government was voted in through a parliament reshuffle after his LDK party’s alliance with the left-wing nationalist Vetevendosje collapsed less than two months after it came to power.

It was Vetevendosje, now in the opposition, which brought the case to the constitutional court.

The party complained that Etem Arifi, a Roma MP, had been sentenced to 15 months in prison in April 2018 for misusing 26,000 euros (31,000) through an NGO.

The court agreed that Arifi’s vote was invalid because “a person convicted of a criminal offence by a final court decision in the last three years” cannot serve in the assembly.

Opposition politicians welcomed the ruling.

“We will soon have new elections, and the legitimate government will return to power,” said Vetevendosje’s Arberie Nagavci.

Pristina is still reeling from the drama that felled its former president Hashim Thaci.

Long Kosovo’s most powerful politician, Thaci resigned in November after being summoned to The Hague for trial on war crimes charges dating back from Kosovo’s rebellion against Serbia.

Thaci was a leader of the guerilla fighters who battled Serbia in the 1990s.

The former rebels have dominated Kosovo’s politics for over a decade, but are now weakened with several of them facing trials in The Hague.

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