By Die Morina
The competition to become Kosovo’s next PM will focus on three candidates with very different ideological profiles – Ramush Haradinaj, from ‘the war wing’, Avdullah Hoti, from the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK and Albin Kurti, from Vetevendosje.
Ramush Haradinaj, candidate of the “war wing”:
Ramush Haradinaj will be running as the candidate of the biggest coalition in Kosovo, linking the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, led by Kadri Veseli, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, led by Haradinaj himself and Fatmir Limaj’s initiative for Kosovo, NISMA.
The three parties are all led by former leaders of Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, which makes it the first time since the Kosovo war ended that the entire “war wing” has run together in an election.
Before entering the coalition, Haradinaj and Limaj strongly opposed the ruling coalition of which the PDK was a part.
His candidacy follows his release from France where he was held on the basis of war-crimes charges filed by Serbia.
“I have honoured to my people and my fellow soldiers for the trust given to me during the war, I have honored the trust given me by President [Ibrahim] Rugova, and with the trust given to me today I will honour my homeland!” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook after confirming his candidacy on Wednesday.
Haradinaj was briefly Prime Minister of Kosovo in 2004 after he entered a coalition with the LDK, then led by the late Ibrahim Rugova.
However, after only 100 days in office, Haradinaj quit and surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, to face war crime charges. He has been cleared of war crimes charges twice now by the UN tribunal.
Avdullah Hoti, economist and key ally of Mustafa
Avdullah Hoti is running as the candidate of LDK. His candidacy marks the first time since Isa Mustafa was appointed LDK leader in 2010 that another member of the party will run for the post of prime minister.
Currently Minister of Finance, he was always an important ally of Mustafa’s. When Mustafa was mayor of the capital of Kosovo, Pristina, Hoti served as deputy mayor from 2010 to 2013.
The coalition that Hoti will run for unites the LDK, the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, of Behgjet Pacolli, and a new formation, Alternative, led by Mimoza Kusari- Lila, Mayor of Gjakova. Hoti was a former Minister of Industry and Trade for the AKR.
After his candidacy became official, Hoti said that he regarded his candidacy as an enormous responsibility.
“I have the full support of LDK structures, a party that has assumed the biggest burden for all the processes that have taken place in Kosovo,” Hoti said on Tuesday.
“This is the biggest day of my life and I believe that with the unity of the LDK this coalition will win the elections,” he said.
Albin Kurti, from the only party that has never governed
The only political force heading into the elections alone is the opposition nationalist Vetevendosje party, which has decided that its candidate for the post of Prime Minister should be its former leader, Albin Kurti.
“Vetevendosje and I are ready to serve the people as PM. We have had tremendous growth in the last two years … people are also looking for change,” Kurti said after his candidacy was announced on Thursday.
He added that Vetevendosje did not want to allow “this split coalition on two lists to continue its extortion.
“People are afraid they cannot find jobs. People fear that children are not educated. People are afraid they may soon become poor. It’s the last time to bring about change,” he added.
Vetevendosje has never been in government Kosovo but its role in the country’s development has been important, mainly by opposing important processes such as the controversial agreement on border demarcation with Montenegro, which led to the fall of Mustafa’s own government.
Together with Haradianaj’s AAK and Limaj’s NISMA, Kurti and his party colleagues often released tear gas in parliament as a protest gesture.
This makes Kurti the only candidate to have a warrant arrest, issued by the Pristina Basic Court in late April, after he failed to show up for his trial, accused of letting off teargas in parliament last year.