Kosovo Assembly. Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

New Assembly, old problems, MPs warn

In anticipation of the government’s upcoming motion of no confidence to be cast on Thursday, political experts and members of the Kosovo Assembly warn of the consequences that the current legislature’s weak performance over the last two years will have on its new mandate.

On Thursday, the Kosovo Assembly will vote to pass a motion of no confidence in the government of outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. The vast majority of parties that comprise the Kosovo Assembly have communicated their readiness to support the motion, and if it passes, Kosovo citizens will have the opportunity to cast their votes for a new government within the next 45 days.

In anticipation of fresh elections, politicians and political experts reflecting on the last 700 days of the Kosovo Assembly have assessed the legislative body’s performance as one of the weakest of the country’s last six administrations. 

Haradinaj formed the Kosovo Government in September 2017, but resigned on July 19 following a summons from the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office for an interview in front of the war crimes court located in the Hague. His resignation has since paved the way for fresh general elections less than two years after the government was formed, which are expected to be held in the upcoming weeks.

According to members of the Assembly, Haradinaj’s administration has been characterized by a lack of quorum in decision-making processes at the Assembly, which has led to a considerable number of draft laws, agreements and reports either not being passed or not voted on in the first place. 

MPs hail Haradinaj Government ‘weak’

Elmi Recica, an MP for the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, said to BIRN that the Assembly’s performance since September 2017 has been “flawed.” 

“Despite the fact that many of the draft laws foreseen in the agenda have been passed, as well as some of the reports of the agencies that answer to the Assembly, we still cannot say that we have accomplished our mission, because we lacked a voting quorum during almost every session,” said Recica.

“I believe that the lack of quorum and the absence of members of the government during sessions at the Assembly are the two biggest reasons that this legislature was so weak,” the MP continued.

Avdullah Hoti, chief of the parliamentary group of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, told BIRN that during the 2019 spring session, the Assembly of Kosovo was working almost exclusively thanks to the opposition parties calling extraordinary sessions of the Assembly. 

Since January, he said, the Assembly held 24 sessions, out of which only six were regular, three were solemn, and 15 were extraordinary, criticizing speaker of the assembly Kadri Veseli’s role in obstructing the regular functioning of the Assembly. 

“The extraordinary sessions were almost all initiated by the opposition,” said Hoti. “This approach was necessary, owing to the fact that in the absence of a parliamentary majority and the absence of PAN’s legitimacy, the speaker of the assembly was blocking the work of the Assembly.”

According to Hoti, during this time the Assembly’s role overseeing the Government was disabled as a result of the outgoing prime minister and ministers’ rare appearances in Assembly sessions and in sessions of the specialized parliamentary committees.

Agnesa Haxhiu from the Democratic Institute of Kosovo, KDI, said to BIRN that this Assembly  has been characterized by an unusually large number of extraordinary sessions, the most to ever have been called within one governmental administration.

Delays in the work of the Assembly of Kosovo, especially in this year’s spring session, have been more noticeable, according to Haxhiu.

Haxhiu told BIRN that during the Assembly’s 2019 spring session, the work of the legislature was plagued by an obvious lack of quorum in plenary sessions as well as by improper performance from assembly members that resulted in significant obstructions in decision making processes.

According to KDI’s 2018 report monitoring the work of the Kosovo Assembly, 1,671 cases of MP absences in Assembly sessions were reported, an average of 13.9 absences for each deputy in one year.

Problems foreseen 

Haxhiu said that one of the biggest problems that will follow a motion of no confidence is that all of the draft laws that have been submitted to the Assembly which are yet to pass will be pushed back to square one.

“It is up to the new legislative body and executive to decide whether they want to include these draft laws in the legislative agenda,” Haxhiu said.

Recica agreed, explaining that the issues on the agenda that remain incomplete should be processed by the next legislative body, but according to him, it is not clear when the draft laws currently in front of the Assembly that are close to passing will be dealt with.

“Those [issues] which are necessary should be processed by the next legislative body and, at the same time, I hope and believe they will be voted on during the first session of the Assembly,” he told BIRN.

Haxhiu noted that these absences and delays have caused more than 80 per cent of the Assembly’s 2019 legislative agenda to be left completely untouched. 

“Failure to pass decisions has had a negative impact on the performance of the Assembly, which has largely delayed the legislative process and resulted in only 18 per cent of the legislative agenda being carried out for this period,” said Haxhiu. 

“The overwhelming majority of laws passed belong to last year’s agenda, which have already been under review during the previous year and were postponed to be passed this year. Moreover, this year the Assembly has been functioning without any proper agenda,” she continued.

The total budget allocated to the Kosovo Assembly in 2018 was 6.2 million euros. 81 per cent of this total is spent only on the salaries and daily expenses of the Kosovo Assembly’s MPs.

19/08/2019 - 15:45

19 August 2019 - 15:45

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.