Kosovo’s parliament elects Vjosa Osmani as president

Photo: EPA

Lawmakers elected Kosovo's most popular politician Vjosa Osmani as president on Sunday, overcoming an opposition boycott that had kept parliament short of a quorum one day earlier, AFP reported. The 38-year-old law professor, a standard bearer of a generation determined to fight corruption, received 71 votes from the 82 deputies present. "I will work for the strengthening of the state, the rule of law," Osmani told lawmakers.

Osmani was backed by PM Albin Kurti and his Vetevendosje movement which won more than 50% of the vote in a general election in February. That poll turned the page on a 120-member legislature which had been dominated by former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerillas who fought Serb forces in a bitter 1998-99 war.

Osmani’s victory on Sunday on the parliament's third attempt resolved a stalemate caused by members including the former guerrillas and minority Serbs both boycotting the vote on Saturday.

Osmani had stood in as president for several months for Hashim Thaci, a former guerilla leader who was charged in November with war crimes at a special international court in The Hague.

Osmani and Kurti must now mend a weak economy that provides Kosovars with an average monthly salary of just €500, and has pushed youth unemployment to around 50%.

With six female ministers in a 15-strong cabinet, the new administration is also pushing back on longstanding exclusion of woman from power.

The European Union and United States will likely press the new government to resume a dialogue with Serbia.

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