Haradinaj Return Spells Change For Kosovo’s Politics


By Edona Peci

The acquittal of the former KLA leader and former Prime Minister paves the way for his political comeback – but what form that will take remains unclear.

Experts in Pristina are already weighing the potential political impact of Ramush Haradinaj’s return to his homeland.

Haradinaj returned to Kosovo as a free man to a rapturous welcome following his acquittal by the Hague Tribunal on Thursday.

Many predict a future governing coalition between his Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK – now in opposition – and the governing Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK.

They are less clear on how the AAK plans to achieve its involvement in government with Haradinaj “at the front” of it.

Before his trial he was briefly Prime Minister, for about 100 days.

“It remains to be seen if this is possible now, without holding elections, or whether we will have to wait for elections – either extraordinary or regular ones,” Agron Bajrami, editor of the daily Koha Ditore told BIRN.

Kosovo held extraordinary elections at the end of 2010 to overcome a crisis that occurred after the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, left the governing coalition with the PDK.

Having won more than 30 per cent of the votes, the PDK, led by Hashim Thaci, was mandated to form a new government.

Behgjet Pacolli’s Alliance For a New Kosovo and other parties led by the ethnic Serbian minority were included in the governing coalition with PDK.

Pacolli was then elected President of Kosovo, but his election was annulled by the Constitutional Court, which deemed the process unconstitutional.

To resolve the legal vacuum caused by the ruling, the PDK, the LDK and the AKR agreed to elect Atifete Jahjaga as an inerim President until electoral reforms had been implemented.

These reforms were blocked this summer because of different stands that the parties have with regard to Jahjaga’s mandate.

Blerim Shala, an AAK deputy head, said on Thursday that “new elections may not be held without a new Law on Elections”.

Ilir Deda, executive director of the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, told BIRN that “the most democratic outcome would be parliamentary elections… and, based on those results, a new, full legitimate government.”

He did not rule out the possibility of a political agreement between the PDK and AAK that would lead to a new coalition.

“In Kosovo where basic democracy is still desirable, everything is possible,” he said.

“Any change in the current government’s composition without holding elections would be a manipulation of… politics,” Bajrami added.

“As Thaçi is Prime Minister himself, the eventual ranking of Haradinaj at top of the government would be rational to the PDK only if the PDK took over the presidency,” he added.

However, Jahjaga says she has a right to complete her five-year mandate given in April 2011.

The Constitutional Court this summer said that an interruption of Jahjaga’s mandate would “reduce human rights and freedoms” and was “not in line” with the constitution.

Under the constitution, parliament has a four-year mandate, while the President has a five-year mandate.

Until the future of the AAK’s eventual role is resolved, Haradinaj will be a leader of the opposition in the Kosovo Assembly, where his party has 11 of the 120 seats.

The AAK’s Blerim Shala was recently appointed political coordinator of the government-led dialogue with Serbia.

This move was considered a signal of future coalition plans between the PDK and AAK.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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