By Lawrence Marzouk
The election of Behgjet Pacolli as President of Kosovo has been ruled unconstitutional, throwing the country into a fresh institutional crisis.
Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the vote which led to Pacolli becoming President on February 22 was in breach of the constitution.
Opposition parties Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, submitted a complaint to the court following the vote, arguing that parliament did not have a quorum for the first two rounds of presidential votes, and that a break between the second and third round was illegal.
Pacolli failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority in the first two rounds and just 67 of the 120 MPs were present in the chamber after the opposition walked out before the first vote began.
In the last, and final, round, which requires a simple majority, Pacolli received 61 votes, but observers, opposition MPs and the parliamentary speaker, Jakup Krasniqi, said that a pause between the two votes had been unconstitutional.
In an announcement issued by the court on Monday, it said that the vote had been in breach of the constitution, although did not specify how. The court said that the full judgment will be made available to the parties.
Billionaire businessman Pacolli is now likely to face a revote in parliament.
Pacolli, leader of the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, secured the post of president after his party agreed to form a coalition with the dominant Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
The coalition negotiations followed December’s disputed, extraordinary general elections, which had been sparked by last summer’s Constitutional Court decision that the last president, Fatmir Sejdiu, could not also perform the role of head of his party, the LDK.