Kosovo Election Authorities Put Main Opposition Leader's Candidacy In Doubt

Kosovo election authorities have rejected dozens of candidates for upcoming parliamentary elections on February 14, potentially dashing former Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s bid of taking up the post again.

Kurti, the head of the main opposition Vetevendosje party, is believed to be one of 47 candidates not certified by the Central Election Commission (CEC) on January 22.

"There are 47 candidates out of about 1,080 who have been found guilty of a criminal offense by a final court decision in the last three years,” the CEC said.

While electoral authorities didn’t name Kurti, he was among four Vetevendosje figures given a suspended sentence three years ago for throwing tear gas in parliament.

According to the law, a candidate found guilty of a crime in the previous three years is barred from running for office.

The CEC had requested the Kosovo Judicial Council assist in the process of verifying candidates in accordance with election laws.

Candidates and parties have the right to appeal any adverse decision with the Election Complaints and Appeals Panel. If the appeal is rejected, the Constitutional Court is the final arbiter.

Vetevendosje, the Social Democratic Initiative, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo were all impacted by the CEC decision. The parties said they plan to challenge the rejection of their candidates.

Kosovo was plunged into renewed political crisis last month after the Constitutional Court ruled that the parliamentary vote electing a new government in June was unconstitutional.

The court 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 for new elections.

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

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