Perparim Isufi, Pristina, BIRN, April 22, 2020

Almost a month after Albin Kurti’s administration was toppled in a no-confidence vote, Isa Mustafa and Ramush Haradinaj on Wednesday moved ahead with plans to form a new coalition government.

After the heads of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Isa Mustafa, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, on Wednesday agreed to work on creating a new coalition government, President Thaci said he would give a mandate to form a government to whatever coalition was able to assemble a majority.

“They have agreed that Kosovo needs a new government with a majority in parliament as soon as possible,” AAK Secretary General Besnik Tahiri said after the LDK-AAK meeting. Outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s government fell in a no-confidence vote initiated by its LDK partners in March.

After meeting the political leaders, President Thaci signalled his approval: “As a result of your expressed will for the country to have new government .. fully respecting the constitution and the laws of Kosovo. I will give it (a mandate) to the party or coalition that proves to have a majority in parliament.”

Tahiri added that details about the new coalition have not been discussed as yet.

Besides the AAK, Mustafa’s plan is to form a coalition with the Social Democratic Initiative, NISMA, led by Fatmir Limaj, the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, led by former foreign minister Behgjet Pacolli, and various ethnic minority representatives.

The LDK, AAK and NISMA together have 47 of the 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament they need for a majority.

Now they need either the 10 votes of the Belgrade-backed ethnic Serbian party Lista Srpska plus the 10 votes of other minority representatives – or the support of Kadri Veseli’s former ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK.

Mustafa and Haradinaj met one day after President Hashim Thaci told Vetevendosje party head and incumbent Prime Minister Kurti, that, despite sending him four letters within three weeks requesting the name of a new prime minister, he had not sent back one proposal.

Thaci said he had then started consultations with other party leaders after concluding that Kurti had lost his right to nominate a new head of government.

“Regretfully, I assert that with your actions you didn’t use the right to propose a new candidate for the formation of a government,” Thaci said.

“In accordance with the constitution, I will [now] undertake a joint consultation with all leaders of parliamentary parties,” he added.

On Sunday, Thaci announced that further steps would be taken this week to form a new government – even though outgoing PM Kurti, who lost a no-confidence vote on March 25, is still demanding new elections once the pandemic is over.

Indicating what he wished the new government to do, he added that the tariffs imposed on Serbian imports, much criticised by the US and EU, “need to be dropped in order to strengthen US and EU support for Kosovo”.

Kurti’s Vetevendosje party – which wants new elections as soon as possible, rather than a new government formed out of the existing constellation of parties in parliament – condemned that announcement.

His party has long accused the former ruling PDK – which Thaci once led – of hatching a plot with Vucic to partition Kosovo on ethnic lines, in exchange for Serbia recognising the independence of its former province.

Thaci’s announcement comes after a series of tense letters was exchanged with Kurti, whose party, as it has most seats in parliament, first received a mandate to form the new government.

Last week, Mustafa’s LDK, the junior partner in the outgoing government, signalled its readiness to form a new government if and when it gets a mandate from President Thaci.

Since triggering and then winning a no-confidence motion against Kurti, Mustafa has turned his attention to wooing a range of smaller parties in parliament as potential coalition allies.