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Kosovo Leaders Pledge Coalition

Outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and a top opposition leader have agreed to form a grand coalition in Kosovo.
Outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and a top opposition leader have agreed to form a grand coalition in Kosovo.

Kosovo's two leading political parties have reached a deal to form a coalition government, ending more than five months of deadlock.

President Atifete Jahjaga made the announcement late on November 19 after talks with outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), and Isa Mustafa of the rival Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

"Thaci and Mustafa agreed in principle to form a coalition between PDK and LDK, to build institutions of the Republic of Kosovo," Jahjaga said in a press release.

The statement did not mention whether Thaci, a former paramilitary leader, who has been prime minister of Kosovo since 2008, would continue in his role as head of the government.

A separate statement from the LDK, however, said that Mustafa would become prime minister.

One newspaper reported that, under the deal, Thaci would become president in 2016 when Jahjaga's term ends. The president is elected by parliament.

There was no immediate word from Thaci.

Thaci's PDK won parliamentary elections in June, but did not win by a wide enough majority to support him as prime minister.

An alliance of opposition parties led by the LKD blocked attempts by Thaci to remain in the top spot and the two sides have argued for the past five months over which party has the right to form the government.

Mustafa's LDK, along with other opposition parties had sought to oust Thaci from his post following allegations of corruption and an international investigation into organ trafficking.

The coalition will still have to be voted on by Kosovo's 120-seat parliament, which is expected to convene by the end of the week.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 after breaking away from Serbia in 1999, when NATO planes bombed Serbian troops accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing of Albanian civilians during a two-year war.

Thaci led the ethnic Albanian fighters in Kosovo during the separatist war.

Some 100 countries have recognized Kosovo's independence, something Belgrade says it will never do.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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