Kosovo lawmakers decide to dissolve parliament in preparation for early legislative elections

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Kosovo lawmakers voted on Thursday to dissolve parliament in preparation for early legislative elections, a move that would delay the Europeans’ dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

Eighty-nine of the 120 deputies voted to dissolve the National Assembly after a new majority could not be formed after Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July.

Haradinaj, 51, a former leader of the Kosovo rebel movement in the 1998-1999 war against Serb forces, announced his resignation after being summoned by an international court suspected of war crimes.

He appeared for the first time on July 24 at the Hague-based tribunal, set up in 2015.

The court is charged with investigating crimes suspected of being committed by Kosovo Albanian fighters, particularly against a number of Serbs, Roma and Albanian opponents of the Kosovo Liberation Army during and after the conflict.

The conflict in Kosovo, the last of the wars that broke out with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, has killed more than 13,000 people, including 11,000 Kosovo Albanians, 2,000 Serbs and hundreds of Roma.

– Elections within 45 days –

Parliament will start its session at 10 am (0800 GMT). If parliament is dissolved, the authorities will have 45 days to organize the ballot. The media reported October 6 as the date for the election.

These developments in Kosovo will delay the resumption of dialogue with Serbia, which refuses to recognize the independence of its former southern province, backed by most Western countries, announced in 2008.

This dialogue, which began in 2011 under the mediation of the European Union, is in place. As soon as it resumed last summer, it stopped as Serbia blocked the candidature of Kosovo to join Interpol for months. Kosovo responded by imposing 100 percent duties on products imported from Serbia.

Serbian President Alexander Vucic, who met Tuesday in New York with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, said talks could resume “early December at best” pending the formation of a government in Kosovo.

The Serbian president stressed that Belgrade is ready to resume the dialogue on the condition that Kosovo should give up tariffs on its products.

Despite pressure from the European Commission and Washington, Haradinaj has so far refused to cancel the fees.

Political analyst Arton Muhajiri sees the resumption of dialogue as a crucial issue when forming a new government.

– A new balance of power? –

“A long time has been wasted and will not allow a government that does not take a positive view of dialogue with Serbia,” Muhajari told AFP.

Analysts also believe that elections could cause power imbalances in this fragile democracy.

Parliament has in the past been dominated by alliances led by former warlords such as Haradinaj and Hashem Taji.

One possibility is to form the coalition of the main opposition parties, the Democratic League of Kosovo (center-right) and the left-wing National Independence Party (Vetevendosje).

Analyst Adrian Tsolaku said the two-party alliance, although very ideologically different, could push the Tajik Democratic Party of Kosovo (KDP) into opposition for the first time in more than a decade. “This will be a good thing for democracy in the country.”

Analysts have yet to rule out Haradinaj from the political game. He said he would return to politics if the court in The Hague did not charge him.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted Harinadi in 2008 and 2012 of crimes against Serb civilians as well as Roma and Kosovo Albanians.

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