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Kosovo - Politics

Kosovo is a parliamentary democracy. The constitution and laws provide for an elected unicameral parliament, the Assembly, which in turn elects a president, whose choice of prime minister the Assembly must approve. Civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces.

Human rights issues included refoulement; endemic government corruption; crimes involving violence or threats of violence against journalists; and attacks against members of ethnic minorities or other marginalized communities, including by security forces. The government sometimes took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses in the security services or elsewhere in the government. Many in the government, the opposition, civil society, and the media believed that senior officials engaged in corruption with impunity.

National unity has unraveled since the country declared independence in 2008. Kosovo's present conditions are bleak: Ethnic disputes remain unresolved, crimes committed during the 1990s war remain unprosecuted, and there are serious corruption, extreme poverty and mass emigration to deal with.

After indepedence, Serb hardliners employed violence and intimidation against domestic opponents and international security forces, resulting in deaths and injuries. Roadblocks that Serb hardliners established in the northern part of the country seriously restricted basic rights, including freedom of movement and movement of goods. Ethnic minorities, which included Serb, Romani, Ashkali, Egyptian, Turkish, Bosniak, Gorani, Croat, and Montenegrin communities, faced varied levels of institutional and societal discrimination, in areas such as employment, education, social services, language use, freedom of movement, IDPs’ right to return, and other basic rights. Members of the Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities were subject to pervasive social and economic discrimination; often lacked access to basic hygiene, medical care, and education; and were heavily dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.

Dr Ibrahim Rugova was the first elected president of the Republic of Kosovo. Dr. Ibrahim Rugova was elected President of the Republic of Kosovo in the first multi-party elections for the Assembly of Kosovo, held on 24 May 1992. Following that, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, was reelected the President of the Republic of Kosovo in the elections held in March 1998. Ridiculed by young Albanians for his opposition to the 1998 insurrection against Serbian rule, Mr. Rugova staged an electoral comeback to twice defeat political parties linked to the Kosovo Liberation Army, the militant group that took up arms against Serbia, and later entered the political fray. The Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova also won the majority of votes in the first local elections in Kosovo in October 2000, in the first national elections in 2001, and he was re-elected President in the second local elections in 2002 and in the national elections in 2004.

Kosovo under UNMIK administration held its first parliamentary elections in November 2001. After significant political wrangling, politicians agreed to establish a coalition government in March 2002, with Bajram Rexhepi (PDK) as Prime Minister and Ibrahim Rugova (LDK) as President. In the same year, the Kosovo Assembly began to function and pass its first laws. Beginning in 2003, UNMIK began transferring governing competencies to these ministries.

In the 2009 and 2010 elections, election fraud was grave, widespread, and visible. To prevent it, Kosovo’s elite pledged to their own citizens and to the international community that they would reform the inadequate electoral law and vet the bloated voters list. Yet nothing was done. In the 2014 election fraud was less prevalent, apparently, and certainly less visible.

The law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot based on universal and equal suffrage. Despite undertaking to dismantle them, the Serbian government continued to operate some illegal parallel government structures in Serb-majority municipalities. Illegal parallel institutions also operated in Serbian and Gorani enclaves throughout the southern part of the country.

Party affiliation played an important role in access to government services and social and employment opportunities. Clan loyalties also played an important role in political organizations. Ethnic minorities’ representation in the Assembly was more than proportionate to their share in the population, but political parties representing ethnic minorities criticized majority parties for not consulting them on important issues.

Newly independent Kosovo spent much of its first decade stuck in the political mud. Led almost exclusively by veterans of a bloody war for independence, it was weighed down by only being partially recognized and by an exodus of emigrés who could have helped the tiny Balkan country gain economic traction. Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe, and there is a growing confidence of young generations, and also women, and they want to see a different type of politics.

When voters in 2019 appeared to plot a new course behind an emerging nationalist party that challenged the old guard, Kosovars watched one year later as their push for change sputtered into a political dead end. The resulting power vacuum and caretaker leadership persisted through national tests like an unprecedented health crisis, mounting pressure to mend diplomatic fences with neighbor Serbia, and war crimes indictments that unseated a powerful president and other senior politicians.

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci, indicted 24 June 2020 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, accused the international justice system of attempting to rewrite history. On June 24, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) said in a statement that Thaci and other suspects were "criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders," as well as the "enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture." Hashim Thaci announced 05 November 2020 he would resign as the president of Kosovo. Thaci, a guerrilla leader during the country's war for independence from Serbia in the 1990s, resigned after confirming that he had been indicted by the Kosovo Specialist Chamber (KSC) in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hysni Gucati, the head of the association of former Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) veterans, was led away from the headquarters of the organization by EU police units on 25 September 2020 amid taunts from onlookers. Gucati was arrested on suspicion of criminal offenses "against the administration of justice, namely for intimidation of witnesses, revenge, and violation of the secrecy of the procedure." The deputy head of the Kosovo War Veterans Association, Nasim Haradinaj, has been transferred to a war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers said on September 26. According to the arrest warrant, Haradinaj is suspected of intimidating witnesses, retaliation, and violating the secrecy of proceedings by releasing confidential information, including the names of witnesses.

Early elections have become routine in Kosovo, wearying a public that has low faith in a political class that seems to lurch between crises. Since the former Serbian province declared independence in 2008, which Serbia refuses to recognise, not a single government has finished its full term.

"Kosovo's had so many elections and everybody considers every election to be a turning point," says Robert Austin, an East-Central and Southeastern Europe specialist at the University of Toronto. "And the problem with Kosovo is sometimes you reach a turning point and then nothing turns."

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:36 ZULU