Locked down Kosovans protest from their balconies to urge politicians to resolve differences

By bne IntelliNews March 22, 2020

Citizens from several cities in Kosovo joined a symbolic protest from their homes on the evening of March 19. Rather than putting lives at risk by gathering in person to protest, citizens went to their balconies and banged pots and pans to express their unhappiness with the latest political crisis in the country, which threatens to topple the government and create fresh instability amid the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The protest took place after the one member of the ruling coalition, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), decided to launch a no-confidence motion against government led by PM Albin Kurti due to disagreements with its coalition partner, Kurti’s Vetevendosje.

The crisis escalated just a month and a half after Vetevendosje and the LDK, both of which were previously in opposition, came to power, following the October 12 snap elections. 

Mustafa said he will file a non-confidence motion after Kurti dismissed the interior minister from the LDK’s ranks after a disagreement over whether to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. Mustafa said that the dismissal followed differences between Vetevendosje and the LDK on whether the 100% tariffs imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina in 2018 should be removed.

A Facebook group dubbed “Replikë” called on citizens to protest against politicians who for political gains are causing a crisis in Kosovo as the country is trying to deal with the virus.

“They are looking after their business. It is not time for revenge, they have to look after people,” 60-year old Gazmend Vokshi was cited by Reuters.

Kosovo has registered 22 coronavirus cases, with most of them arriving in the country from Italy.

The no-confidence motion was supported by several opposition parties including that of ex-PM Ramush Haradinaj, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), and according to Koha the vote might take place on March 21.

Vetevendosje has 29 members in the 120-seat parliament, making it unlikely to survive the vote.

Meanwhile on March 20, Mustafa published a letter on Facebook that he sent to Kurti a few days ago, asking him to remove 100% tariffs, saying they endanger Kosovo’s partnership with the US, and also calling on him to revoke the decision to sack interior minister Agim Veliu.

The letter is seen as an attempt by Mustafa so solve the crisis peacefully, and it seems that Kurti’s next moves will be decisive for the survival of the government.

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