- Created: Friday, 11 March 2016 12:24
- Written by Adrian Halilaj
On 26 February Kosovo MPs elected Hashim Thaçi as the country’s new president against a backdrop of teargas and nationwide protests.
Thaçi, the leader of the centre-right Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the senior partner in Kosovo’s coalition government, had previously served as Prime Minister from 2008 to 2014. He rose to prominence in the late 1990s as the political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the ethnic Albanian guerrilla organisation that received the support of NATO forces against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War of 1998-1999. In addition to KLA war crimes, Thaçi has been on the receiving end of allegations of organised drug and organ trafficking throughout his political career – something which he has got away with due to his support for NATO. As Thaçi was sworn in, members of opposition party Vetëvendosje released tear gas in the parliamentary chamber, which has become something of a routine act of defiance in recent months, while around 1,000 anti-Thaçi demonstrators protested outside Parliament, with 21 police officers injured in the riots, according to Reuters.
Protesters, led by Vetëvendosje (the Albanian word for 'self-determination'), an Albanian social-ethnocratic party campaigning for a unified greater Albania, are up in arms about Thaçi and Prime Minister Isa Mustafa’s role in the EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia. The deal grants more powers to Kosovo’s minority Serb population, largely living in the north of the country. It is seen by many as a concession by both governments to normalise relations with a view to eventual accession to the EU.