Kosovo’s newly elected parliament has held its inaugural session after snap elections last month and is expected to vote in the new prime minister.
The new parliament, meeting for the first time on March 22, comes after a February 14 election in which Albin Kurti’s leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Movement) party won the most votes.
However, Vetevendosje, which has 58 of parliament’s 120 seats, still needs the support of non-Serb minority parties to form a new government. Kosovo’s Serb minority has 10 seats in parliament and 10 other seats belong to other minorities.
After the lawmakers’ swearing-in ceremony, Glauk Konjufca of Vetevendosje was elected speaker of the new legislature with 69 votes.
Saranda Bogujevci, Bedri Hamza, Kujtim Shala, Slavko Simic, and Bekim Arifi were elected deputy speakers.
The parliament may convene again in the afternoon or tomorrow to vote on the new prime minister. Vetevendosje has nominated Kurti for the position.
The new government will have to deal with a troubled economy and frayed relations with Serbia.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kosovo’s economy was struggling with high unemployment. Organized crime and corruption remain major problems as well. The country has reported nearly 64,000 total coronavirus cases, and just over 1,500 deaths.
Kosovo’s relations with Serbia, from which it declared independence in 2008, remain fraught more than two decades after a war between separatist ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces.
The 1998-1999 war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign drove Serb troops out and a peacekeeping force moved in.
Negotiations on normalizing ties with Serbia brokered by the United States and the European Union — which stalled again last year — did not figure high on Vetevendosje’s agenda.
Kurti has said that forming a negotiating team for dialogue with Serbia would not be a priority for his government.