Kosovo PM postpones the vote on the border demarcation deal with Montenegro amid citizen protests and the absence of Lista Srpska from the parliamentary session.
Though the vote for ratification of the draft law on border demarcation with Montenegro was scheduled to take place in the Kosovo parliament on Thursday, Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa withdrew it as an item on the agenda. One factor in the withdrawal, according to Mustafa, was the boycott of the session by Kosovo Serb MPs representing the coalition Lista Srpska.
Mustafa said that the draft law could not be voted under these circumstances.
“Today, circumstances are not appropriate to approve the ratification of the draft law on demarcation of the border,” said Mustafa, while hundreds of protesters chanted outside “Down with the government.” “I consider that it is not in order to discuss this while there is pressure and threats from MPs, with a parliamentary group conditioning this law with concessions. This does not mean that we will review the agreement but we will seek further consensus.”
The eleven MPs of Lista Srspska had announced on Thursday morning that they would not be attending the session due to security reasons.
Fatmir Limaj, the leader of parliamentary group Initiative for Kosova, NISMA, argued that the withdrawal was not due to Lista Srpska’s boycott nor security reasons, but rather because of a lack of votes needed to pass the draft law.
“The procedure does not need a double majority [which would include Serbs] so why are we withdrawing this draft law?” asked Limaj. “The fact is that you [the governing coalition] do not have the votes to approve the demarcation [deal].”
Opposition parties consider the withdrawal as a failed vote and a victory against the deal, which they say would cause Kosovo to lose about 8,000 hectares of land.
The protests against the deal organized by Vetevendosje in Prishtina on Thursday ended peacefully after the vote was postponed. Cheers rang after the conclusion of the assembly session as former Vetevendosje leader and Kosovo MP Albin Kurti thanked the crowd.
“We have saved 8,200 hectares,” Kurti said, claiming “the failed vote” as the opposition’s doing.
Thursday’s withdrawal is the second postponement of the vote for ratification since the draft law was submitted to the Assembly on August 4. The controversial border deal was reached on August 26, 2015 and has been a topic of heated public debate since then.
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