By Petrit Collaku
Kosovo’s government has elected the deputy director of Kosovo police President of the country, in a remarkable turn of events.
The vote, at 6pm on Thursday night, followed an agreement between the government coalition and the main opposition party the day before on the presidential candidate, staving off fears that the government might collapse.
After the election, newly elected President Atifete Jahjaga said: “Until yesterday, I had never thought to take a high, leading position in politics. But, as many of you, my fellow citizens, I was ready to serve whenever and wherever my country invited me.”
Jahjaga was named the new candidate after several rounds of talks on Wednesday night between the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, its coalition partner New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, and the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, led by American Ambassador to Pristina Christopher Dell.
In the first round of voting in the 120-seat parliament, 80 voted in favour – just enough to secure the two thirds majority needed to elect a president.
Jahjaga is new to the political scene, and it is unlikely that she will serve out her full five-year mandate, as the parties agreed to hold new presidential elections within 18 months after rewriting the constitution to make the post directly elected by the public.
Beghjet Pacolli, whose election as president was annulled last week, withdrew his candidacy for the revote during the talks.
Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled two weeks ago that the vote which led to Pacolli becoming President on February 22 was in breach of the constitution because no candidate stood against him and because two-thirds of MPs were not present for the vote.
In the first two rounds of voting in the parliament, Pacolli was not able to get the required two-thirds majority of votes in the 120-seat assembly. The third round required only a simple majority. Opposition parties boycotted the session.
As part of the agreement reached on Wednesday night, the PDK agreed to carry out electoral and constitutional reforms that would allow the president to be elected by a direct vote, rather than by parliament, as is the case currently. The parties agreed to enact the reforms within nine months, and hold presidential elections six months after that.
The parties also agreed to hold general elections no more than 18 months after the electoral reforms take effect.
The LDK agreed to remain in parliament for the presidential revote in order to ensure that the ruling coalition reached the necessary quorum to elect the head of state.
Meanwhile, one of the main opposition parties, Vetevendosje [Self-determination] attacked the negotiations that led to the nomination of Jahjaga, saying it is proof of a “Dell-ocracy” in Kosovo.