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Kosovo’s parliament votes in Vjosa Osmani as president

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Kosovo”s parliament on Sunday night swore in Vjosa Osmani, the former speaker of parliament and ally of Albin Kurti’s Vetevendosje! movement, as president.

A total of 71 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of Osmani, with two opposition parties boycotting the vote along with the Serb minority party.

Osmani becomes the second female leader in Kosovo since the Balkan nation declared independence from Serbia 13 years ago.

She had been acting president since November 2020, when former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader and president Hashim Thaci resigned after his indictment for war crimes by an international court in the Hague.

Her election means that Kurti’s leftist-nationalist movement, which swept elections on February 14, now controls the top three political positions in the country, president, prime minister, and speaker.

Kurti, who has promised to crack down on the political elites that have controlled Kosovo since the 1998-99 war with Serbia, said Osmani’s election meant that Vetevendosje had “completed the establishment of our institutions and enter a new area of sustainability and prosperity for the people of Kosova.”

The position of president is largely ceremonial but Osmani will be active in foreign policy and will be commander in chief of the armed forces. As such, Osmani will likely be involved in ongoing EU-brokered talks with Serbia, which still does not recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Kurti told Euronews in an interview in February that continuation of the talks would require Belgrade to apologise for atrocities committed during the 1998-99 war and accused Serbia of committing genocide in Kosovo. Osmani has also previously said that Serbia carried out genocide during its invasion, which was only ended in June 1999 by a NATO bombing campaign and KLA offensive.

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