Kosovo Likely Headed for Political Crisis as President Resigns

World | March 30, 2011, Wednesday // 18:54|  views

Kosovo's newly elected President Behgjet Pacolli (L) shakes hands with his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov (R) at the presidential residence in Skopje, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 23 March 2011. EPA/BGNES

Kosovo's President Behgjet Pacolli resigned on Wednesday after the country's constitutional court declared his election by the local parliament at the end of February to be illegal.

The court did not provide the grounds for its decision but the opposition parliamentarians who filed the suit cited election irregularities.

"The president of the Republic of Kosovo Behgjet Pacolli is ready to respect the decision (of the constitutional court)/ Pacolli will be the candidate of the coalition partners in the new election of a new president because he did not violate the constitution," Pacolli's top aide Ibrahim Gashi told reporters as cited by BGNES.

His election was a power-sharing deal negotiated between Pacolli's small New Kosovo Alliance and PM Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo, which won the elections in December. This means that Kosovo might be head for new early elections unless the two parties resolve the situation.

Monday's ruling marks the second time the Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled against an acting head of state after in September 2010 Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu resigned as the court said he had violated the Constitution after serving also as a party leader.

Millionaire Pacolli is believed to be unpopular among the majority of Kosovo Albanians for having business relations with Russia, which is opposed to Kosovo's independence and supports Serbia in its claims on the young republic.

Pacolli was voted President by the Kosovo Parliament two months after the snap general elections in December. Since February 22, 2011, Pacolli has already welcomed foreign delegations and has managed to make one official state visit abroad, to neighboring Macedonia.

Pacolli's election as President came several days after Kosovo celebrated its 3rd year of independence from Serbia – declared on February 17, 2008.

Pacolli controls a large international construction and civil engineering business.

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, to protest against the EU's law enforcement mission Eulex, which was recently behind the arrest of Kosovo rebels for war crimes committed during the 1998-99 war of secession from Serbia, EurActiv reported.

Yesterday's protest was organized by several veteran organisations of the 1998-99 war and joined by an umbrella group of NGOs as well as students to "defend the honour of the KLA during the war".

The protesters marched carrying signs saying "Free the Freedom Fighters" and "Eulex go away", RFI reported.

Nine former rebels from the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were arrested by Eulex police two weeks ago, on suspicion of killing and torturing ethnic Albanians and Serbs during the Kosovo war. Among those arrested is a former Kosovo government minister.

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Tags: kosovo, Hashim Thaci, elections, Behgjet Pacolli, Kosovo President, Kosovo Constitutional Court, Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, EULEX


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