Kosovo To Hold Snap Elections After Top Court Ruling

By RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Acting Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani began consultations on December 22 with the political parties on setting the date for early elections after the Constitutional Court ruled that the parliamentary vote electing a new government in June was unconstitutional.

The consultations will continue on December 23. So far, the end of January or February 7 were proposed as possible dates for the election.

The Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled on December 21 that the election of the government of Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti was illegal because one member of parliament who voted for the government had previously served time in prison.

The vote of lawmaker Etem Arifi was one of 61 for Hoti’s government, which was elected by the minimum number in the 120-seat parliament.

The court ruled that the government did not get enough votes and called on Osmani to set a date for new elections, which must be held no later than 40 days from the day of the announcement.

The current government can continue serving until parliament elects a new one.

The complaint before the court was brought by leftist-nationalist opposition party Vetevendosje (Self-Determination), which claimed that Arifi’s vote was unconstitutional because he had been sentenced to prison for one year and three months on a fraud charge.

According to the constitution, a deputy’s mandate comes to an end when the deputy is convicted and sentenced to one or more years in prison by a final court decision.

Arifi was sentenced to prison in September 2019.

The Central Election Commission claimed it was not informed of Arifi’s sentence before the general election in October last year, which Vetevendosje won.

In March, the government of Albin Kurti, leader of Vetevendosje, was brought down by a no-confidence motion raised by Hoti’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

The approval in June of the new government led by Hoti, a 44-year-old economics professor and former finance minister, ended months of political turmoil.

Hoti said on December 22 that he will respect the court's decision.

"It is our obligation to follow the procedures for announcing elections within the constitutional deadline," Hoti told a news conference in Pristina.

With reporting by AP and Reuters