PRISTINA – Ramush Haradinaj, a divisive ex-prime minister of Kosovo and a former guerrilla fighter, was nominated Thursday as the country’s new premier and tasked with creating a new Cabinet.
President Hashim Thaci said on his Facebook page that he had issued a decree to give Haradinaj, leader of the center-right Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party, “the mandate to form the new government.”
The 49-year-old Haradinaj served as prime minister before for three months from December 2004 to March 2005 before resigning to face a U.N. tribunal for his role in Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia. He is a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Haradinaj was eventually cleared twice of war crimes charges by the U.N. tribunal.
Earlier Thursday, Parliament elected a new speaker three months after the country’s June 11 election, approving Kadri Veseli of the Democratic Party of Kosovo in a 62-52 vote.
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) 7 de septiembre de 2017
Besides running the poor country’s economy, Haradinaj will also have a tough diplomatic job because Serbia still regards him as a war criminal. Kosovo suspended EU-sponsored talks with Serbia earlier this year after Haradinaj was arrested in France on a warrant from Serbia. A French court refused to extradite him.
Haradinaj told reporters he would present a new Cabinet on Saturday at parliament, which will vote on his leadership.
“The duty of all of us is to revive the country and bring hope back,” Haradinaj said.
Veseli’s coalition of three political parties of former leaders of Kosovo’s war of independence from Serbia, with only 39 lawmakers, secured votes from an ethnic Serb group and a minor Albanian one to gain a majority in the 120-seat parliament.
— Hashim Thaçi (@HashimThaciRKS) 7 de septiembre de 2017
Saying there was no time to lose, Veseli urged the opposition to join the new Cabinet in passing reforms to improve the economy and to reduce unemployment. He also mentioned the thorny issue of approving a border demarcation deal with Montenegro, which Brussels has set as a condition for adding Kosovo to western Balkan countries whose citizens don’t need visas to enter the EU’s Schengen travel zone.
“There should be one joint stance on our agenda: Euro-Atlantic integration and backing dialogue with our neighbor Serbia,” said Veseli.
The Self-Determination Party, the second biggest group after the June 11 vote but still in opposition, had disrupted the previous parliament with tear gas to protest the deals with Montenegro and Serbia.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia doesn’t recognize the move.