By Xhorxhina Bami
The Constitutional Court of Kosovo on Thursday ruled that President Hashim Thaci did not make an unconstitutional decision when he gave a mandate to a new prime minister to form a new administration without holding fresh elections.
He took this action after the outgoing ruling party, Vetevendosje, did not nominate anyone for the role.
The court ruling sparked anger from Vetevendosje, which has demanded snap elections since its government was ousted in March in a vote of no confidence, and has threatened to stage street protests.
Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi accused the Constitutional Court of handing down a political verdict rather than a legal one.
“The argumentation and reasoning of the [Court] decision is political and anti-democratic and in no way legal or constitutional,” Abazi wrote on Facebook on Friday morning.
Avdullah Hoti, who Thaci tasked with forming the new government as Kosovo, welcomed the ruling. “It is time to unite for the future of the country and our citizens. Nobody has lost,” Hoti wrote on Facebook.
The United States, Kosovo’s key Western backer, urged state institutions and political parties to respect the Constitutional Court decision.
“We ask all leaders to work together for an orderly transition in the interest of peace, stability, and prosperity for all the people of Kosovo,” the US embassy in Pristina said in a statement.
Hoti was put forward for the role of prime mnister by the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, the party that was part of the Vetevendosje-led administration under Albin Kurti, which which also instigated the no-confidence vote in March that toppled the short-lived government.
After Kurti’s government fell, Thaci consulted all the parties in parliament and most said they wanted a new government rather than snap elections. Thaci said he would give a mandate to whichever “party or coalition proves it has a majority in parliament”.
Vetevendosje, which has most seats in parliament, but not an absolute majority, did not nominate a new premier but did not refuse to nominate one either – a delaying tactic that it hoped would lead to snap elections.
But Thaci pushed ahead with decreeing the LDK nominee Hoti as the next prime minister.
Vetevendosje sent the presidential decree to the Constitutional Court for interpretation, arguing that Thaci had been constitutionally unqualified to do this.
But the court has now ruled that Thaci followed the correct procedure by consulting all the political parties and then accepting the nomination for prime minister from the second-largest party in parliament, the LDK.
“I was convinced that every step I took was in full compliance with the constitution of Kosovo and I am glad that this was confirmed by the Constitutional Court,” Thaci wrote on Facebook on Thursday evening.
Kurti had demanded new elections, citing previous practice after a no-confidence motion. But the court said that this was not the correct interpretation of the constitution, and the current situation was different to previous ones.
It said that “a successful vote on a motion of no-confidence in a government by the Assembly does not result in the mandatory dissolution of the Assembly and thereby permits the election of a new government”.
Kurti has made no public reaction so far, but Vetevendosje posted a video on Facebook of what it called a “rehearsal” for a protest for snap elections and against what it described as a breach of the constitution.
The heated political dispute has seen the Constitutional Court accuse Thaci and Kurti of pressurising it and of using “threatening political discourse”.