Kosovo’s parliament officially elect Vjosa Osmani as president

Tue 6 Apr 2021

Kosovo’s parliament officially elect Vjosa Osmani as president

On April 5 Vjosa Osmani was officially elected as president by Kosovo’s parliament, after she had already temporarily taken over this position from former President Hashim Thaci, who had stepped down in November 2020. He was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia, in a The Hague court ruling. Osmani was already expected to become the country’s next president, which is mainly a ceremonial role. 

Alliance between Osmani and Vetëvendosje has benefitted both

In the parliamentary elections, which took place on February 14, her political movement joined forced with the Self-Determination Movement (Vetëvendosje) of Albin Kurti, which won the elections by a landslide. She has also quickly grown to become one of the country’s most popular politicians. With Kurti recently installed as prime minister and Glauk Konjufca as speaker of parliament, Vetëvendosje control all three important posts.

The 120-seat parliament had convened in an extraordinary session for two days and elected Osmani with 71 votes in favour of her instalment. In two previous votes, the parliament failed to reach the quorum of 80. In this third and final vote on the presidency, Osmani managed to gain the required two-thirds majority. 82 MPs attended the vote, of which 11 votes were invalid. The opposition parties, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), NISMA and the Serb List (SL) boycotted the vote.

Opposition provoked by Kurti’s delay of the vote on the presidency

On April 2 Kurti’s Vetëvendosje was still accused of stoking instability, when the party proposed a law in parliament that would allow Kosovars living abroad to vote at embassies, potentially benefitting Vetëvendosje in future elections. Vetëvendosje gained over 75% of the votes of Kosovars living abroad, but many of them experienced difficulties with voting. The law was narrowly rejected by parliament, after which there was time left to vote on the presidency.

Other parties claimed that Kurti was provoking snap elections, because if no new president was elected before April 6, new early elections would be triggered. Currently, Vetëvendosje has formed a government with the support of several non-Serbian minority parties, but might be able to gain a majority of the seats with early elections. International actors had urged Kurti and other parties to elect Osmani as president, for the sake of stability.

Support of opposition party LDK decisive in the end

The opposition parties PDK, Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), had previously raised their concern about Osmani becoming president. They declared that the president should be a neutral figure. However, with the support of the LDK the 38-year-old reformist lawyer has been elected president after all. The LDK conclued that early elections were not in the national interest. As Kosovo’s second female president Osmani hopes to set an example that girls have their place wherever they want to be.

Sources: Aljazeera, Euronews, Intellinews, Rferl1, Rferl2, Politico

Image: Pixabay (Kosovan flag)