August 22, 2019 / 9:12 AM / 5 months ago

Kosovo lawmakers vote to dissolve parliament, paving way for election

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament on Thursday, paving the way for a parliamentary election after Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned last month.

Kosovo lawmakers vote to dissolve parliament, paving way for a parliamentary election after Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned last month, in Pristina, Kosovo, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Laura Hasani

A total of 89 deputies voted to dissolve the 120-seat parliament. An election should take place within 45 days.

Haradinaj resigned after being summoned for questioning by the country’s war crimes prosecutor over his role in the 1998-99 insurgency against Serbian forces, when he was a commander of the guerilla Kosovo Liberation Army. He denies any wrongdoing and said he is ready to face any accusations.

Polls show that no party will gain enough support to form a government on its own, and lengthy coalition talks are expected. The last government was a coalition between Haradinaj’s party, the centre-right Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA).

Haradinaj resigned from the role of prime minister once before in 2005 when he was indicted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. He was tried and acquitted twice by that court.

A major task facing the new government will be to relaunch talks with Belgrade on normalising relations, key for both countries in their bid to join the European Union. Talks collapsed last November when Pristina introduced a 100 percent tax on products made in Serbia.

Kosovo, with a 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nearly 10 years after NATO bombing drove Serb forces out of the country. It has been recognised by more than 110 states but not by five EU member states, Serbia and Russia.

In 2013 the two countries agreed to an EU-sponsored talks, but little progress has been made since. Serbia which still considers Kosovo part of its territory said it would return to negotiating table only once the 100 percent tax is abolished.

Pristina on the other hand says it would abolish tax only when Belgrade recognises Kosovo as sovereign state.

(This story has been refilled to correct day of the week in first paragraph)

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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