Kosovo PM's party splits before national election

PRISTINA Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:29pm GMT

Hashim Thaci, head of the Democratic Party (PDK), gestures to party supporters after claiming victory in Kosovo's parliamentary election in Pristina in the early hours of November 18, 2007. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

Hashim Thaci, head of the Democratic Party (PDK), gestures to party supporters after claiming victory in Kosovo's parliamentary election in Pristina in the early hours of November 18, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Hazir Reka

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PRISTINA (Reuters) - Two close allies of Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, split from him on Friday to launch a new party to contest a national election expected to be held between June and September.

Analysts say the "Initiative for Kosovo" of parliamentary speaker Jakup Krasniqi and legislator Fatmir Limaj is likely to take a large number of votes from Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) as the government has been heavily criticised for nepotism, high levels of corruption and a lack of economic reform.

The government has struggled to maintain its majority in the 120-seat parliament as divisions have deepened within the coalition, but the opposition is divided over whether to bring it down.

"Kosovo is not on the right path, its citizens are tired of illusion and demagogy, of empty promises and endless expectation, and tired of uncertainty about their future," Limaj, the head of the new party, told a cheering crowd.

Kosovo, which became independent from Serbia in 2008, is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Limaj has twice been cleared of war crimes charges, once by a U.N. tribunal. He is now set to be tried by Kosovo's European Union justice mission on charges of corruption and organised crime while he was a government minister between 2008 and 2010.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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