Albin Kurti in Tirana, Albania, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/MALTON DIBRA

Kosovo’s Political Rivals Lock Horns Ahead of Court Verdict

The battle between President Thaci and Prime Minister Kurti has become increasingly heated as both sides await a Constitutional Court ruling on the President’s appointment of a new PM.

Kosovo’s incumbent Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, on Tuesday night condemned a death threat he said he had received from a phantom organisation called the “Albanian Volunteers’ Guard”, as the country edges close to the Constitutional Court ruling on his request to annul President Hashim Thaci’s decree mandating Avdullah Hoti to form a new government.

Kurti, who wants fresh legislative elections following his government’s ousting in a no-confidence vote on March 25, published a statement from the organisation, which demanded that he and his Vetevendosje party abandon any plans for protests if the upcoming Constitutional Court verdict does not suit them.

“Kurti and the whole Vetevendosje leadership who are helping to organise this protest have reason for concern about their and their families’ safety from the Guard,” the statement allegedly read. “We will act if needed,” it added.

When Kurti’s government removed the metal fences put up to protect the government building in April, many on social media predicted that the Vetevendosje party was planning to return to its protest roots if it is denied a snap election.

President Thaci opposes fresh elections and wants Hoti, from the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, to form a new coalition government from the existing parliament.

On May 12, some 500 Vetevendosje supporters created an almost perfect square in the centre of Pristina in what they called a “protest rehearsal” that they insisted did not violate social distancing restrictions designed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Kurti blamed political rivals from “the old regime” for the threatening statement, which he called a threat to the Constitutional Court as well. “They want to intimidate the Constitutional Court and not only that,” Kurti said, adding that the letter also aimed to intimidate foreign diplomats. “We are carefully following developments while awaiting the Constitutional Court ruling,” he added.

Kosovo Police Director Rashit Qalaj told BIRN that the police were investigating the case. “We also are contacting Facebook because the threat came through this social network,” Qalaj said.

Political polemics in Kosovo have become increasingly heated in recent days as the interim measure imposed by the Constitutional Court on Thaci’s decree concerning the new Prime Minister expires on May 29.

Thaci said on May 15 that the court needed to go about its business unimpeded. “It is essential to democracy in Kosovo and to the spirit of the parliamentary republic that the Constitutional Court works independently, free of any pressure by any side, be it political, civil society or the international community,” he said.

But the court on Tuesday criticised both Thaci and Kurti for dragging it into their disputes. It said it was following with concern “the threatening debate between the President and Prime Minister… who, by accusing each other of pressuring the court, are attempting to influence or prejudge the Constitutional Court’s decision making.

“The Constitutional Court strongly condemns this interference to its institutional independence as well as the attempt of political and institutional actors to involve the Court in daily political debates,” it added.

It “will not be subject to such pressures and threats and does not need political and public protection from anyone, because the Constitution provides all necessary guarantees to act in an independent and impartial fashion”, it continued.

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