Kosovo: opposition wins election, opens new phase of change

Hopes for dialogue with Belgrade and solution of the conflict

07 October, 17:46

    (ANSAmed) - BELGRADE, OCTOBER 7 - Early elections in Kosovo on Sunday have registered the victory of the two main opposition parties that are set to replace from power the former leaders of the separatist guerrilla (Uck) which have led the country since the proclamation of independence from Belgrade on February 17, 2008, with their radical and strongly anti-Serbian positions.

    There is hope that a new government will abolish anti-Serbian customs duties imposed a year ago and will enable the resumption of dialogue with Belgrade, the only road to reach an agreement on the normalization of relations and a solution of a conflict that continues to destabilize the region.

    ''The time has come'', said last night to his supporters Albin Kurti, the 44-year-old leader of Vetevendosje (Self-determination), a nationalist left-wing movement that won the election with over 25% of the vote, followed by the Democratic League of Kosovo (Ldk), a moderate center-right party which garnered 24% of the vote.

    The leader of Ldk, former premier Isa Mustafa, has chosen as candidate for the premiership a woman for the first time, Vjosa Osmani, 37, a jurist with a master's degree from the US, who speaks several languages and says she wants to reform the country.

    Presenting himself as the future premier of an incoming cabinet, Kurti - who as a student opposed Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic and who over the past year has staged protests including interrupting parliamentary work in Pristina with tear gas to prevent a vote to ratify a border agreement with Montenegro - is aware of his responsibility now. He says he wants to open a new phase of reforms and change.

    ''We are opening a new chapter for our country'', he told his supporters at a celebration. And this morning on Facebook he stressed that Kosovo now has ''hope''. ''Thank you to all of you who voted for change, and in particular Self-determination, saving our country from further decay'', said the nationalist leader.

    Vjosa Osmani, who teaches at the University of Pristina, has said she is willing to discuss a possible alliance with Kurti to form a new government of change and send to the opposition political forces that have stalled Kosovo's economy and society.

    Many voters, including youths, have expressed dissatisfaction over the economic crisis, widespread poverty, unemployment that reaches 30%, corruption and crime that have led over 170,000 Kosovans to leave the country over the past five years. Pristina's harsh policies have also increased Kosovo's international isolation. Its citizens still need a visa to travel in Europe and talks with Belgrade have not led to concrete results.(ANSAmed).

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