Parliament approves new govt in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Legislators approved a new coalition government in Kosovo on Tuesday, including the first prime minister who was not involved with the insurgents who fought for the territory’s independence from Serbia.

A general election was held in Kosovo June 8, but bickering among political rivals had prevented the formation of a new government until Tuesday’s 65 percent vote of approval.

Isa Mustafa, head of the pacifist Democratic League of Kosovo, was named prime minister. The government will include former Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, who will serve as Mustafa’s deputy and Kosovo’s foreign minister.

“I would like to stress our readiness to work together with all sides for the benefit of Kosovo citizens,” Mustafa said minutes after the vote.

Thaci led the fighters of Kosovo’s successful separatist war against Serbia in 1998-99. Kosovo became independent in 2008, and he and his allies were accused of using violence and intimidation to control Kosovo’s first governments.

The new government is expected to continue European Union-monitored talks with Serbia, a condition for both countries to get closer to eventual membership in the bloc.

Kosovo’s minority Serbs have backed the new government and agreed to run three ministries and have a deputy prime minister. The new Cabinet also will have to ensure legislation is passed in parliament to create a special court, funded and run by the EU, to put on trial former top ethnic Albanian war commanders suspected of running a human trafficking ring and killing Serbs civilian detainees during the Kosovo war.

Mustafa’s government will face high unemployment and the soaring social discontent fuelled by an absence of foreign investors, some of whom claim Kosovo officials seek kickbacks for allowing foreign companies to do business in the new country.

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