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article imageKosovo parties reach deal to form a government

By AFP     Feb 2, 2020 in Politics

Kosovo's two biggest parties reached a deal on Sunday to form a new government four months after a snap election, avoiding a potential political crisis, one of their leaders said.

The left-wing Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) and centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) won most of the seats in the October election.

"Now we have agreements. We will govern together," Vetevendosje head and prime minister-designate Albin Kurti posted on Facebook.

The snap election was called after Ramush Haradinaj resigned as prime minister in July as he was summoned to be questioned at a war crimes court in The Hague.

In October, Vetevendosje and LDK won 29 and 28 seats respectively in the 120-member assembly.

They inflicted a historic defeat on the PDK party, led by ex-guerrilla commanders who have dominated Kosovo since it declared independence.

But the election was followed by months of bargaining between the two camps over government posts rather than ideological differences.

The deal is to be formally approved later Sunday by the two parties decision-making bodies, which is an almost certain outcome.

Parliament is to vote on Kurti's cabinet on Monday.

The new coalition will also include parties representing minorities and will have together a required majority of 61 MPs.

Kurti first gained fame as a student activist protesting in the 1990s against the Serbian regime, whose troops waged a bloody campaign against Kosovo's Albanian majority.

The deal was reached just a day before the expiry of a two-week countdown launched by President Hashim Thaci, who tasked Kurti with forming a government.

Brussels and Washington had urged the parties to unite and start tackling urgent economic, social and legal reforms.

They are especially eager to see a revival of stalled negotiations with Belgrade -- a lingering source of tension in the volatile Balkans.

Kosovo, a former Serbian province that proclaimed independence in 2008, is recognised by most of the West but not Belgrade or its allies Russia and China.

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