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After 12 hours of session, the Kosovo government lost a motion of censure on March 26, despite strong opposition from citizens who would rather see their authorities united against the COVID-19 pandemic.
By 82 votes to 32 and one abstention, MPs removed Prime Minister Albin Kurti, leader of the Vetëvendosje (“self-determination”) party at the request of the former coalition partner, the Kosovo Democratic League (LDK).
Recent emergency measures against the coronavirus outbreak exposed tensions in the fragile coalition between Vetëvendosje and LDK, which had formed a government just 52 before.
On March 18, Prime Minister Kurti dismissed Interior Minister Agim Veliu of LDK over disagreements over the state of emergency declaration, which would give President Hashim Thaçi, also of LDK, much more power.
The coalition deteriorated further when the prime minister announced a curfew that Thaçi considered unconstitutional.
The Government decides on a curfew.
The President calls on Kosovo police not to implement it, considering such a measure unconstitutional.
In 🇽🇰 we are dealing with Covid-19 in a most peculiar way – disciplined citizens and chaotic politicians.
Please don't try this at home.
– Visar Ymeri (@VisarYmeri) March 23, 2020
The government decides on a curfew.
The president asks the Kosovo Police not to implement it, he considers the measure unconstitutional.
In 🇽🇰 we deal with the Covid-19 in a very peculiar way – disciplined citizens and chaotic politicians.
Please don't do this at home.
#Kosovo political struggle has reached a new level with Thaci now asking citizens to ignore government's new restrictions on movement from 10 am-4pm + 8pm curfew, saying they are unconstitutional. He wants a state of an emergency which would, conveniently, give him much more power
– Sally Mairs (@ssmairs) March 24, 2020
The political struggle in Kosovo has reached a new level with (President) Thaci, who is now asking citizens to ignore the new government measures from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. plus curfew at 8:00 p.m. , says it is unconstitutional. He wants a state of emergency that would conveniently give him much more power.
At home because of the quarantine, the Kosovars have carried out cazerolazos in protest – hitting pots and pans from windows and balconies – to express objection to the vote of censure that many fear will lead the country to constitutional chaos amid the pandemic and an impending recession. global economic.
As of March 26, Kosovo has 86 confirmed cases of and one death from the disease, according to official data from the Ministry of Health.
Today in political absurdity: While the whole world rushes to stop the spread of # COVID19, the Kosovo parliament meets to topple the government of firebrand PM @albinkurti. As other European govts extend their mandates, this parliament will leave the country without one. pic.twitter.com/aaGWTdkoRr
– Una Hajdari (@UnaHajdari) March 25, 2020
Today in political absurdity. As everyone rushes to halt the spread of COVID-19, the Kosovo Parliament meets to overthrow the regime of the unruly Prime Minister Albin Kurti. While other European governments extend their mandate, this Parliament leaves the country without a government.
Before a convulsive political scene and an imminent outbreak of COVID-19 ,. Local activist group Replikë called for a non-violent protest on Facebook from balconies and windows:
Here's the best footage as #Prishtina residents take to their balconies to protest with pots and pans against LDK plans to overthrow the government of #Kosovo in midst of the # covid19 crisis. pic.twitter.com/H2ZbUK7qmj
– Xhemajl Rexha (@xhemajl_rexha) March 19, 2020
This is the best shot of Pristinans going to their balconies to protest with pots and pans against LDK's plans to overthrow the government of Kosovo in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Protests were held every night at 8:00 p.m., except on March 25, when it was held at 11:00 a.m., at the time of the motion of censure.
Situata politike në Kosovë nuk është duke u përmirësuar. Kërkesat e mijërave qytetarëve për pesë ditë radhazi nuk janë duke u përfillur nga skena politike. Në anën tjetër rastet me virus por rriten në Kosovë. Po vazhdojmë të krijojmë zhurmë derisa kjo skenë politike t’i ndëgjoj
– Replikë (@ReplikeKs) March 23, 2020
The political situation in Kosovo does not improve. The political class is ignoring the requests of thousands of citizens after five consecutive days of protests. On the other hand, cases of infection with the virus are increasing in Kosovo. We will make noise until the politicians listen to us.
As reported by the independent media Kosovo 2.0:
The marathon session of the Parliament was held despite the government ban on gatherings, deputies wore masks over their mouths and noses throughout, while journalists and other guests were banned in order to allow the deputies more space to retain a 1.5-meter distance between them.
The marathon session of Parliament was held despite the government's ban on meetings, deputies wore masks over their mouths and nose throughout (the session), while journalists and other guests were barred from entering to give deputies more space to keep a distance of one and a half meters between them to retain.
Dozens of Pristina citizens came to protest in front of the assembly building, most wearing masks and taking care to maintain the required distance of two meters from each other. They carried signs that said “against the motion.”
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKuO_a5oOSA (/ embed)
The decision to initiate a censure motion has been criticized by the embassies of Germany and France. Vjosa Osmani, LDK vice president, also declined to support the motion when it was announced.
Ambassadors of 🇫🇷 and 🇩🇪joint demarche to Deputy PM Hoti stepping in for Chairman M. Mustafa to voice concerns of both capitals.
Stay at the side of Kosovo people in crisis. Invite LDK to reconsider no-confidence vote and maintain trusted and stable government to face challenges.
– France au Kosovo (@FranceauKosovo) March 24, 2020
Ambassadors of 🇫🇷 and 🇩🇪 jointly maneuver Deputy Prime Minister Hoti to take over from Chairman Chairman M. Mustafa expressing concerns from both capitals.
Stay by the side of the Kosovo people in crisis. Invite LDK to reconsider the vote of no confidence and allow the government to vote and remain stable to face the challenges.
On the other hand, the United States has received well the change in government, as President Thaçi is perceived as the one who most supports the Trump peace agreement with Serbia, which former Prime Minister Kurti vehemently opposes.
Many said the cacerlozos reminded them of protests against the Milosevic regime in the 1990s. A letter from the Kosovo 2.0 editor read:
(…) But I do remember a night in the 1990s, at age 6, grabbing a pan and spoon and joining my two older sisters on the balcony of our family home, hitting the pan and shaking keys. This was one of the many ways through which protest was expressed at that time. The metallic sound reverberated throughout our neighborhood in Prishtina, and it most probably added to a cacophony of discontent throughout the city; similar snippets are just as much a part of other people’s recollections of how the decade began.
(…) But I remember one night in the 1990s, at the age of six, having taken a saucepan and a spoon and joining my two older sisters on the balcony of our family home to hit the saucepans and shake keys. It was one of the many ways in which protest was expressed at that time. The metallic sound echoed through our neighborhood in Pristina, and probably added to the cacophony of discontent throughout the city. Similar fragments are part of other people's memories of how that decade began.
In a March 21 article for the Koha Ditore newspaper, the former politician and journalist Veton Surroi expressed a similar sentiment when recalling the cacerolazos against Milosevic, an alternative solution to the police curfew in force at that time. He added that he regrets to see that a new political crisis has forced citizens to do the same 30 years later.
Editorial note: The author of this article is a researcher of the project “Building knowledge about Kosovo (3.0)”, funded by the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society.