Sun, 31 May 2020

PRISTINA -- Kosovo's parliament is set to vote on a no-confidence motion against the government pushed by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), a member of the ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

The vote, if it proceeds as scheduled at 11 a.m. on March 25, could potentially engulf the nation into a political crisis even as it battles along with the rest of the world to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.

LDK leader Isa Mustafa filed the motion after Kurti on March 18 fired Interior Minister Agim Veliu, purportedly for spreading 'panic' after he backed a presidential call for a state of emergency over the epidemic.

Although a member of the ruling coalition, the LDK has opposed Kurti's Self-Determination party on several issues, including the declaration of a state of emergency and the imposition of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian imports.

It has also boiled down to a battle for power between Kurti and President Hashim Thaci, observers say.

Thaci late on March 17 called for the state of emergency.

But Kurti rejected the move, saying it would cause "unnecessary panic" and fired Veliu hours after Veliu said he supported the emergency call.

A state of emergency would grant expanded powers to the president, which now is mainly a ceremonial post.

Adding to the confusion, Thaci on March 24 told citizens not to respect coronavirus-related curfews announced by Kurti's government.

Thaci said the curfews are unconstitutional and can only be declared under a state of emergency.

'Citizens are not obliged to respect this decision. Neither the police nor the security authorities should enforce this decision of the government,' said Thaci, who has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.

Authorities in Kosovo have confirmed 63 coronavirus infections and at least one death, that of an 82-year-old man with underlying health issues.

The country has closed its borders along with all schools, shops, and restaurants. Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open.

With reporting by AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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