PRISTINA -- Kosovo's parliament is set to vote on a no-confidence motion that could engulf the Balkan country in a political crisis even as it battles the coronavirus pandemic along with the rest of the world.
The vote of no confidence, pushed by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. local time on March 25.
LDK leader Isa Mustafa filed the motion after Prime Minister Albin Kurti on March 18 dismissed Interior Minister Agim Veliu, purportedly for spreading "panic" after he backed a call for a state of emergency.
President Hashim Thaci late on March 17 called for the state of emergency, which would grant him expanded powers beyond the mainly ceremonial role of president.
Kurti rejected the move, saying it would cause “unnecessary panic” and fired Veliu hours after the interior minister said he supported the call for a state of emergency.
Although the LDK is a member of the ruling coalition, it has opposed Kurti’s Self-Determination Party on several issues, including the declaration of a state of emergency and the imposition of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian imports.
Adding to the confusion, Thaci on March 24 told citizens not to respect coronavirus-related curfews announced by Kurti’s government.
Thaci said the curfews are unconstitutional and can only be declared under a state of emergency.
"Citizens are not obliged to respect this decision. Neither the police nor the security authorities should enforce this decision of the government," said Thaci, who has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.
The government has said that the situation is under control and has opposed declaring a state of emergency, Balkan Insider reported.
U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip S. Kosnett said he was pleased that the parliament will hold a session on the no-confidence vote.
Kosnett said on Twitter on March 24 that he told Kurti it is important for the assembly and all Kosovar institutions to respect the constitution.
Germany’s ambassador to Kosovo, meanwhile, voiced the concerns of Germany and France in saying the two countries are at the side of Kosovo’s people in crisis.
Christian Heldt said on Twitter on March 24 that the LDK should reconsider the call for a no-confidence vote to maintain a trusted and stable government to face Kosovo’s challenges.
Authorities in Kosovo have confirmed 63 coronavirus infections and at least one death, that of an 82-year-old man with underlying health issues.
The country has closed its borders along with all schools, shops, and restaurants. Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open.