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Europe

Kosovo president resigns after losing constitutional court case

Three days after a court ruled he had violated the constitution, Kosovan President Fatmir Sejdiu has resigned, leaving his country without a head of state in the run-up to critical negotiations with Serbia.

Kosovan President Fatmir Sejdiu

Sejdiu said he respected the constitutional court's decision

Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdi,u announced his resignation on Monday after his country's top court found him in violation of the constitution.

Sejdiu, a 58-year-old former law professor, was elected twice to the presidency - a mainly ceremonial position. But he remained head of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) - the second largest party and currently the junior partner in Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's government.

The court decision, published on Friday, found Sejdiu's dual role to be in "serious violation" of the constitution. Thirty-two members of parliament had filed a legal complaint.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Sejdiu said he disagreed with the court's ruling but would respect it.

"Over these years I have worked so that the Republic of Kosovo would have democratic institutions," he said. "I was convinced that keeping the function of the president of the Democratic League of Kosovo without exercising it did not violate the constitution. The court had a different opinion and I respect the ruling."

Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci

Sejdiu's LDK party is part of Prime Minister Hasim Thaci's coalition government

Talks with Serbia

Sejdiu's resignation comes weeks after Serbia, which has not recognized Kosovo following its 2008 unilateral declaration of independence, said it would hold direct talks with Pristina on practical matters. Belgrade's refusal to recognize Kosovo as an independent country is a major stumbling block to its goal of joining the European Union.

Meanwhile Kosovo was given a major boost by the International Court of Justice in July, which found its secession from Serbia to be in line with international law.

Seventy countries currently recognize Kosovo's independence, including the majority of the European Union's 27 member states, as well as the United States.

Under a provision in Kosovo's constitution, the speaker of parliament, Jakup Krasniqi, is to become interim president while parliament has 60 days to appoint a permanent replacement.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP/AP/Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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