PRISTINA – Kosovar President Hashim Thaci has welcomed a decision of the Constitutional Court upholding his decree appointing a new prime minister to replace acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Thaci says he is convinced that every step he has taken has been in accordance with the constitution of Kosovo. He added in a statement on Facebook on May 28 that Kosovo faces many challenges and therefore no time should be wasted in forming a new government.
"Political parties and all institutions should show political maturity, respect for Kosovo's order, law, and institutions. They should respect, accept, and implement the decisions of the last authority for the interpretation of the constitution," he wrote.
Kurti called the decision unfair and unacceptable. He said in a Facebook post on May 29 that by backing Thaci's move, the court "unfortunately sided with those who captured the state."
"Our fight against this corrupt group continues together with those who are aware" Kurti wrote, adding, "We will inform the citizens about further political steps in the coming days."
Isa Mustafa, president of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), a party seeking to form the new government, said the court’s ruling proves that "the state and justice" are working in Kosovo.
He said that a vote in parliament on a new government could be held as early as May 30 or June 1.
Avdullah Hoti, whom Thaci appointed the prime minister-designate of the new government, also welcomed the decision, saying, "It is time for us to unite for the future of the state and our citizens."
Restoring trust and respecting order “is our common task and obligation," he wrote on Facebook.
The U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovar peace negotiations, Richard Grenell, also reacted to the ruling, urging all parties to respect the court’s decision “to ensure peace and stability -- and uphold the integrity of Kosovo’s justice system.”
The verdict is expected to trigger mass street protests in support of the leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party, which is calling for early general elections.
Ahead of the court ruling, several thousand Vetevendosje supporters staged a "rehearsal" protest in the center of the capital, Pristina, saying they were practicing to be ready for demonstrations if the court verdict did not go their way.
In keeping with anti-coronavirus measures, the demonstrators observed strict social distancing and wore masks and gloves.
Thaci on April 30 nominated Hoti of the center-right LDK to replace Kurti as prime minister.
But Kurti’s Vetevendosje party argued the decree was unconstitutional and filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court challenging it.
Kurti and his supporters want to hold new parliamentary elections, while their rivals, led by Thaci, claim that the LDK should be given a chance to form a new government first.
The LDK finished second in the October parliamentary elections behind Vetevendosje and the two parties formed an uneasy coalition.
But Kurti’s government collapsed in March after only 50 days in power, losing a no-confidence vote initiated by the LDK, amid disputes over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the removal of trade tariffs on Serbian goods.
Kurti has since stayed on in a caretaker capacity.