PRISTINA Kosovo's parliament voted to dissolve on Wednesday, paving the way for an early election next month after ethnic Serb lawmakers, who are in a minority, refused to vote on a new national army earlier this week.
A total of 90 deputies voted to dissolve the 120-seat parliament. Leaders of all Kosovo's main political parties agreed this week to hold the election on June 8, instead of in November. [ID:nL6N0NS3AA]
Parliament was supposed to vote on the army on Monday. Kosovo's constitution states that two thirds of lawmakers have to attend votes, as well as two thirds of deputies representing Kosovo's ethnic minorities. The Serb deputies did not show up.
"It is the right moment to have free elections ... with the aim of having credible and functional institutions," outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told parliament deputies.
"Such a decision is necessary at this stage."
President Atifete Jahjaga must now officially call elections within 45 days.
Kosovo's Western backers, who recognised its independence from Serbia in 2008, fear that creating an army now - after Kosovo reached a deal only last year to normalise ties with Serbia - would strain relations with Belgrade and the more than 100,000 ethnic Serbs who live in Kosovo. Kosovo has been unable to join the United Nations due to opposition from Russia, a Serbian ally and U.N. veto-holder.
(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Ruth Pitchford)