Kosovo Picks Female President to Replace Indicted War Veteran

Kosovo lawmakers approved U.S-educated jurist Vjosa Osmani as president, filling the post previously held by an ex-guerrilla who stepped down last year to face charges on war crimes.

Osmani, 38, was elected Sunday with the backing of Premier Albin Kurti, whose anti-establishment Self-Determination Movement won Feb. 14 elections. Both represent a new generation of leaders in the landlocked Balkan state of 1.8 million people, where politics used to be dominated by wartime leaders of the 1998-99 fight by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority for independence from Serbia.

Kosovo Picks Female President to Replace Indicted War Veteran

Hashim Thaci, of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, resigned as head of state in November to surrender to a special war crimes court in the Netherlands.

“We have now completed the establishment of our institutions and enter a new area of sustainability and prosperity,” Kurti tweeted after the vote in parliament.

One of Europe’s poorest countries, Kosovo declared independence unilaterally in 2008 and still seeks full international recognition, fighting Serbia’s refusal to accept the secession and efforts to prevent it from joining world bodies. Both countries need to resolve their disputes to qualify for membership in the European Union.

EU-brokered talks between Serbia and Kosovo have made limited progress since starting more than a decade ago. U.S. and most western nations have recognized Kosovo as a country, while China and Russia support Serbia’s stand. Kurti has ruled out normalizing ties with Serbia unless it accepts Kosovo’s sovereignty.

Osmani previously served as the head of parliament, and as acting president after Thaci stepped down. She is Kosovo’s second female president, after Atifete Jahjaga, who completed her five-year term in 2016.

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