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Kosovo President Resigns After Court Ruling


Fatmir Sejdiu has stepped down after three years as Kosovo's president.

The president of Kosovo has resigned in the wake of a court ruling that said he cannot serve as head of state as well as leader of a political party.

Fatmir Sejdiu announced his resignation at a press conference in Pristina, saying, "Today I resigned as the president of the Republic of Kosovo."

Sejdiu leads the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which is a junior partner in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

The country's constitutional court ruled on September 24 that Sejdiu committed "a serious violation" by serving as both president and leader of a political party. A complaint against him had been filed by 32 members of parliament.

The ruling was not a surprise because the constitution bars the president from holding any political party functions.

Sejdiu said he respected the ruling and said he had worked as president to bring legitimacy to democratic institutions like the court. "I strongly believe that my act today is strongly beneficial for the interest of our citizens and our beloved country," he said at a September 27 press conference.

Politically Fragile

The 58-year-old Sejdiu's resignation comes at a politically fragile time for Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 but is not recognized by Belgrade.

Seventy countries, including the United States and the majority of European Union members, recognize the Balkan country.

Earlier this month Serbian President Boris Tadic's government announced a major policy change and agreed to negotiate with Kosovo on practical issues between the two governments. Kosovo's population of two million includes around 120,000 ethnic Serbs.

Analysts say Sejdiu's resignation could delay talks with Belgrade, expected to start in October.

Sejdiu was elected president in 2006 to replace Ibrahim Rugova, who died of lung cancer.

Sejdiu helped to draft laws in Kosovo after the 1998-99 war when NATO waged a bombing campaign to halt killings of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war with Serb forces.

He was also the head of Kosovo delegation during status talks with Serbia when Kosovo declared independence.

Kosovo's parliament has 60 days to appoint his successor.

with RFE/RL reporting, agency material, and RFE/RL's Balkan Service.