Kosovo’s PDK keeps coalition partner in suspense ahead of confidence vote

Kosovo’s PDK keeps coalition partner in suspense ahead of confidence vote
By bne IntelliNews May 10, 2017

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) will determine its position on the no-confidence motion against the government within the next 48 hours, Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, who is also deputy leader of the PDK, told Epoka e Re newspaper on May 9.

The no-confidence motion against the government of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa was initiated by the opposition party Initiative for Kosovo (Nisma). The 120-seat parliament will debate and vote on the motion on May 10.

In order to succeed, the motion has to be backed by 61 votes in the parliament. The ruling coalition comprises the PDK and its partner, Mustafa’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). The PDK and LDK have 36 and 33 MPs respectively. The motion collected more than 42 signatures overall, and besides opposition MPs, the signatories also included four PDK lawmakers, as well as some ethnic minority MPs.

Meanwhile, Hoxhaj said that members of the governing cabinet, as well as the PDK leadership, are under pressure from the party’s membership “to move forward with new dynamics”, without elaborating on what he meant. 

Previously, PDK leader Kadri Veseli, who is also the parliament speaker, was quoted by Reuters as saying, "The situation in Kosovo is not good, I am not happy, people are not happy." Veseli also criticised the government for what he said was a lack of decision-making.

The PDK-LDK coalition was formed in December 2014, six months after the June general election, and following intense and often acrimonious political manoeuvring. The three parties currently in opposition, together with the LDK, initially tried to form a government and force out the PDK - which has been in power since Kosovo gained its independence from Serbia in 2008. 

However, this was repeatedly blocked by the PDK, which eventually struck a coalition deal with the LDK. Under the agreement between the two parties, Mustafa was appointed prime minister while his predecessor, PDK leader Hashim Thaci, would became president when the incumbent Atifete Jahjaga’s term ended in 2016. MPs from the LDK fulfilled their side of the bargain, and Thaci was elected president by the parliament. Recently, however, there have been frequent rumours of tensions within the coalition. 

The primary cause of the confidence vote is an agreement with Montenegro concerning the demarcation of the border between the two countries. The ratification of this border agreement is also the sole unfulfilled requirement of the EU before it agrees to lift its visa requirement for the people of Kosovo. However, Kosovo’s three main opposition parties strongly oppose the move.

Vetevendosje (Self-Determination), the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and Nisma, as well as border region residents, allege that the deal deprives Kosovo of several thousand hectares of land. 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.

Kosovo is in a deep political crisis as a result of the deal with Montenegro and also due to another agreement with Serbia reached by the current government in August 2015. The second deal envisages the creation of a community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo.

On May 8, the US embassy in Kosovo called upon the Balkan country’s parliament to ratify the border deal. “We remain fully convinced – after considerable review by United States government experts – that the border demarcation line established by the agreement is correctly drawn… We urge the government to re-submit the instrument of ratification to the Kosovo assembly immediately and the deputies to ratify it without further delay,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Kosovo’s government has postponed sending the border agreement to the parliament until May 10, after the no-confidence vote, BIRN reported on May 8.

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