Kosovo gov't loses no-confidence vote, early election likely

Kosovo government falls after losing no-confidence vote

Gazeta Express: Early elections in Kosovo after prime minister loses confidence vote

The Kosovo government collapsed on Wednesday thanks to the votes of the opposition and of PM Isa Mustafa's coalition partners, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Hashim Thaci, and the members of the Serb (Srpska) List.

The government had been hobbled by its inability to secure a majority in parliament over a border demarcation deal with neighbouring Montenegro, despite pressure from the US government.

The move means the Balkan country is likely to have a parliamentary election about a year before one was scheduled to take place.

Before the vote, Mustafa described the no-confidence motion as a "political pamphlet without any argumentative basis".

The session of the Kosovo Assembly was marked by a heated debate that on several occasions almost turned to incidents between former coalition partners PDK and Mustafa's LDK, who heaped blame on each other for the government's failures.

The EU has frozen a draft agreement on visa liberalisation for Kosovans, citing lack of progress on the border agreement with Montenegro. Since the signing of the deal, the opposition has released tear gas in the parliament on many occasions and has also held street protests, some of which were marred by violence.

Ratification requires a two-thirds majority, and even within the PDK and the LDK support for ratification is not unanimous.

The government hasn't had enough lawmakers to pass the deal, which was signed in 2015, and Mustafa withdrew the draft bill previous year. However, in recent weeks there has been mounting global pressure for ratifying the agreement.

Kosovo's political crisis has also been fuelled by another agreement, reached with former foe Serbia in mid-2015, that envisages political autonomy for the Serb minority. "The country needs a new government", said Valdete Bajrami of the opposition Initiative for Kosovo party, which proposed the no-confidence motion.

Russian Federation and China are among the other countries which have not yet recognized Kosovo's independence.

Of those present, 78 deputies in the 120-member parliament backed the no confidence motion while 34 were against it, speaker Kadri Veseli said.

The government in Pristina has been under strong global pressure to complete the border deal with Montenegro.

The PDK and LDK, which have 36 and 33 MPs respectively, struck a coalition deal in December 2014, six months after the June general election.

Kosovo, with a mainly ethnic Albanian population of about 1.8 million, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The prime minister did not attend the president's meeting with the political parties. Recently, however, there have been frequent rumours of tensions within the government and the PDK's decision to back away from its coalition partner was not unexpected.

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