Kosovo government on verge of failing amid epidemic's spread

Kosovo's PM and president once again clash over coronavirus measures

Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti

A no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Albin Kurti's government was called in Kosovo on Wednesday, as bickering among the country's three top leaders continues in spite of the coronavirus crisis. The motion was launched by Kurti's junior coalition partners, Isa Mustafa's center-left Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

Kurti, the leader of the nationalist Vetevendosje (VV) party, took over just seven weeks ago. It took him and Mustafa four months after October's elections to forge the coalition. But their relations had been poor from the start and the coronavirus outbreak only made it worse.

An apparently irreparable rift appeared a week ago when Kurti rejected President Hashim Thaci's proposal for a state of emergency due to the epidemic. Thaci's Democratic Party (PDK) is the third-strongest in the parliament. The decision was publicly criticised by his interior minister, a prominent figure in the LDK, Agim Veliu. Kurti immediately sacked Veliu. Mustafa reacted with the no-confidence motion.

The wrangling continued even as the number of coronavirus patients steadily rose - there were 63 by Tuesday night, with one confirmed death. On Tuesday, Thaci asked the Constitutional Court to knock down government lockdown measures imposed because of the epidemic. He accused Kurti of unlawfully restricting freedom of movement and sowing panic - which closely reflects what Kurti said when Thaci proposed the state of emergency. His PDK backed the LDK intitiative for the no-confidence vote.

It is unclear what will happen if Kurti falls, as both he and Mustafa had ruled out a partnership with Thaci and elections are impossible during the epidemic.

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