Kosovo dissolves parliament to hold an early election

Parliament speaker Kadri Veseli, center, flanked by Kosovo's lawmakers leave after voting to disband the parliament during an extraordinary session in the capital Pristina, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Kosovo's parliament was disbanded Thursday, opening the way for the country's president to set the date for an early general election.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Kosovo's lawmakers leave the chamber after voting to disband the parliament during an extraordinary session in the capital Pristina, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Kosovo's parliament was disbanded Thursday, opening the way for the country's president to set the date for an early general election.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Kosovo's lawmakers vote to disband the parliament during an extraordinary session in the capital Pristina, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Kosovo's parliament was disbanded Thursday, opening the way for the country's president to set the date for an early general election. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo's parliament was dissolved Thursday, opening the way to the country's president to set the date for an early general election.

The 120-seat Parliament held an extraordinary session Thursday, deciding by 89 votes in favor of ending the parliament. There was one vote against and two people abstained.

In July, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned before being questioned by a Hague-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country's 1998-99 war. Haradinaj since then has acted in a caretaker prime minister role.

President Hashim Thaci is expected to set a date for the vote, which will be held 45 days later.

Thaci said that he would quickly decide on the election date so that the country has "a functional and accountable government that copes with the challenges of the state and the society" as soon as possible.

No single political grouping is expected to have a clear majority in the new parliament. Delicate alliances have always required the votes of the Serb and other minorities, which have 20 seats, to form the Cabinet.

A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move that Belgrade and its ally Russia do not recognize. The U.S. and over 100 countries do recognize Kosovo's statehood, which followed a NATO intervention in 1999 that stopped a Serbian crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists.

Talks between Kosovo and Serbia remain the main challenge for any Cabinet. They stalled last year over Kosovo's decision to impose a 100% tax on goods from Serbia.

Western powers have called on the two countries to restart their European Union-sponsored talks aimed at normalizing their ties and reach a "legally binding agreement that contributes to regional stability," urging Kosovo to lift or suspend the tariffs and Serbia to suspend "the de-recognition campaign against Kosovo."

"Our top national priority will remain joining the European Union, and the special relationship with the U.S. We are a Western country, we will work very hard in order to transform our economy, fight against corruption, and Kosovo will join the EU," Kadri Veseli, the Parliament speaker and also leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo Party, told the Associated Press.

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Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

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Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini

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