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Kosovo: Albin Kurti, the rebel who became Prime Minister

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — He knew the jails of Slobodan Milosevic, advocated the riot against Serbian tutelage then against “usurper” leaders, sprayed the Parliament with tear gas: the former student leader Albin Kurti became the new Prime Minister on Monday Minister of Kosovo.

“This is a new chapter in the life of Kosovo (…) I will finally have the opportunity and more particularly the responsibility to serve my people,” said Kurti, 44, before the parliamentary debate on his cabinet.

The former student leader is a charismatic leader of Vetevendosje (Self-determination), a nationalist left party which he now presents as being center-left.

For several years, the one who is nicknamed “Che kosovar” wears a tie and suit, but his mastery of the verb always triggers enthusiasm in his meetings where young people, students, workers or unemployed, exasperated by precariousness, clientelism and Corruption.

After four months of negotiations, Kurti has reached an agreement with the other opposition party which led the legislative elections, the LDK (center right), narrowly beaten by Vetevendosje in the polls last October.

Their coalition government was validated Monday by the vote of 66 deputies out of 120.

“Corrupt Elite”

Albin Kurti will also have to convince Westerners that he is no longer the blaster who made the eyebrows frown in embassies, worried about his dream of unifying all Albanians, the red line for the Serbs.

He says today that the conditions for this political project are not met. Admittedly, at its meetings only the Albanian flag flew, but it is because that of Kosovo is identified with “the corrupt political elite” which led it since the declaration of independence of 2008, he assured the l ‘AFP in October 2018.

He assured of his desire to “conduct dialogue” with Serbia, “on an equal basis”, a dialogue on the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade, stalled for over a year.

Long regarded as tough by the Serbs, he will have as its interlocutor President Aleksandar Vucic. Himself a former ultra-nationalist follower of greater Serbia converted to conservative pro-European centrism, the Serb said he was ready to speak to Albin Kurti in whom Belgrade saw in June 2017 “the promoter of a conflict”.

“Neither strong nor weak”

Albin Kurti, who judged in 2018 inevitable his coming to power, then assured AFP that he would refrain from pouring into the authoritarianism of which his critics accuse him. Members of Vetevendosje left, accusing him of having only the objective of becoming “the next father of the Nation”.

“I would be fair. Neither strong nor weak,” he replied to AFP. He has never been cited in corruption cases, a notable singularity among the Kosovar political class, which is largely responsible for its popularity.

Albin Kurti came to power by softening his image while keeping the aura of his past as a student leader, organizer of anti-Milosevic demonstrations that turned into a riot.

He spent more than two years in Serbian prisons (1999-2001) before morphing into opposition to the Albanian independence guerrilla leaders who led the fight against Serbian forces (1998-99) and who were in command of Kosovo since the proclamation of independence.

He claims that “Vetevendosje program has been social democratic since 2013”, but in March 2018, he still urged his deputies to spray the Assembly with tear gas to prevent the adoption of a law.

In the 2017 legislative elections, his party Vetevendosje came out on top, but the road to power had been blocked by an alliance of the parties of the former guerrilla commanders, relieving the West.

But, according to political analyst Imer Mushkolaj, they now have “no reason not to support a new government led by Kurti” because, he says, “he will not run Kosovo as he led the opposition.”

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