Kosovar President Hashim Thaci has sent an open letter to Albin Kurti, the leader of the Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje), asking him to name a candidate for prime minister or clarify whether his party refuses to do so.
“As president, I am obligated to take action without further delay following all constitutional steps so that citizens of the Republic of Kosovo can have a government as soon as possible," Thaci wrote in a letter published by local media.
Kurti's Vetevendosje party emerged with a plurality of 26 percent in the October election that upset entrenched allies of Thaci, a former Kosovo Liberation Army commander, but still won only 29 seats in the 120-seat legislature.
Coalition talks with the second-place finisher, the center-right opposition Democratic League (LDK) with 28 seats, reportedly stalled over government posts and a unified choice to defeat Thaci's likely reelection bid in 2021.
Thaci and Kurti met on January 6, but the Vetevendosje chief failed to propose a candidate to lead the government.
After the meeting, Thaci gave Kurti and his party “48 hours” to nominate a prime minister. Kurti has said that his party will advance a name within days but that hasn't happened so far.
The failure to form a government and Thaci's warning of a "constitutional crisis" highlight the political stakes in Europe's newest state since voters signaled a possible end to more than a decade of leadership from the ranks of former independence fighters.
Kosovo has been recognized by more than 110 states since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, but continues to face diplomatic and institutional hurdles stemming from nonrecognition by Serbia, Russia, and a handful of European Union states.
Talks on normalizing diplomatic relations with Serbia were derailed in 2018 by Pristina's imposition of 100-percent tariffs on Serbian goods in response to Belgrade's continued lobbying for countries to reverse their recognition of Kosovo.
International hopes on restarting those talks -- potentially leading to UN recognition for Kosovo and clearing other obstacles -- appear pinned on the next government.
Thaci said in November that dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade on normalizing ties should continue "without any conditionality."
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