Kosovo's top court on Thursday rejected outgoing premier Albin Kurti's call for snap polls after his coalition collapsed, and backed a presidential decree asking his rivals to form a new government.
A political crisis has been brewing in Kosovo since Kurti’s government unravelled in March, less than two months after he took office.
While Kurti, a reformist bent on wresting power from the old guard, called for early elections, his rival President Hashim Thaci nominated the party that finished second in the October poll to form a new government right away.
After weighing a complaint from Kurti’s camp, the Constitutional Court said in a statement that the “contested presidential decree” was “in accordance” with the constitution.
It said Kurti’s left-wing Vetevendosje did not have the “authority to block the formation of a government within an election cycle.”
Kurti’s ardent fan base reacted swiftly, calling for a national protest on June 5.
Earlier in the day, they gathered in the thousands in the centre of Pristina to “rehearse” a socially-distanced protest ahead of the ruling.
Among his supporters, Kurti’s political victory in October was seen as a watershed moment for Kosovo, a former Serbian province which had been dominated by Thaci’s PDK party for over a decade.
But the elation was cut short after Kurti’s key coalition parter, the centre-right LDK, launched a no-confidence motion in March, in part because of US pressure over the government’s approach to talks with former war foe Serbia.
The new prime ministerial candidate nominated by Thaci, Avdullah Hoti from the LDK, is now expected to try and cobble a governing coalition.
The LDK says it already has the votes needed to secure a majority with support from other opposition parties.
Writing on Facebook, Thaci called on all parties and institutions to “show political maturity, respect and commitment to law and order”.
“Kosovo faces many challenges ahead, so now we must not waste any more time on the formation of the new government, with full legitimacy by the Assembly of Kosovo,” he said.
The US embassy also called the ruling to be respected.