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Kosovar President Calls Snap Parliamentary Elections For October 6

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci (left) and caretaker Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (file photo)
Kosovar President Hashim Thaci (left) and caretaker Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (file photo)

PRISTINA -- Kosovo's president has set snap parliamentary elections for October 6 following the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj in July.

An August 26 statement from President Hashim Thaci's office says that the Central Election Commission has been tasked with taking "all necessary measures" to organize and hold the vote.

Haradinaj resigned on July 19 ahead of his questioning by a Hague-based court investigating alleged war crimes by fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army two decades ago. He has since acted in a caretaker role.

On August 22, 89 out of 120 lawmakers voted to disband parliament, clearing the way for Thaci to call early general elections.

Haradinaj has claimed his innocence, but said he felt he could not go to The Hague as the head of the government.

It was the second time Haradinaj, a former commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army, has stepped down as a result of accusations from The Hague.

A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Although more than 110 countries recognize Kosovo's statehood, Belgrade does not.

European Union-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia to settle their differences have stalled.

Tensions have escalated in recent months, as Pristina imposed a 100 percent tariff on all Serbian goods in November in retaliation for what it said were Belgrade's efforts to undermine the young republic on the international stage.

New elections will put the EU-led talks on hold for longer, with a planned summit next month likely to be postponed.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he expects negotiations to only resume "in early December, at best" because of the Kosovar polls.

The United States and four Western European countries on August 13 called on Serbia and Kosovo to restart the talks “with urgency,” saying the current status quo is "simply not sustainable."

“After years of stagnation, the time has come to finally end the conflicts of the 1990s and provide a secure and prosperous future for the people of Kosovo and Serbia,” the governments of Britain France, Germany, Italy, and the United States said in a statement.

Haradinaj's first resignation came in 2005, after he was indicted by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with his wartime role as a top commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

He has twice been acquitted of war-related charges in 2008 and again in 2012.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters