Kosovo gets new President, its second female leader

Lawmakers in Kosovo elected and swore Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu as their new President on Sunday for a five-year term, the Balkan nation’s second female leader in the post-war period.

Kosovo’s parliament appointed a US-educated female law professor and candidate of the ruling Vetevendosje party, Vjosa Osmani as the country’s new president.

Osmani, who will serve a five-year term, is also the Balkan nation’s second female leader in the post-war period after Atifete Jahjaga, who was president from 2011 to 2016.

Vjosa Osmani took over as acting president of Kosovo last November when her predecessor, Hashim Thaci, resigned ahead of his impending war crimes trial in the Netherlands.

As President, she will have largely a ceremonial post as the head of state. But she also has a leading position in foreign policy and is the commander of the armed forces.

Opposition parties and civil society watchdogs have criticised her appointment, saying that having a president, prime minister and speaker of parliament all from the same party is not welcome in a country with a fragile democracy.

Who is Vjosa Osmani?

The Mitrovica-born 38-year-old lawyer, Vjosa Osmani, finished her Bachelor’s at Pristina University before completing her Master’s and Doctoral studies at US Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh University where she was also visiting professor.

A four-time elected as MP, in February 14 snap elections Osmani became the most voted person ever with more than 300,000 votes as she runs for MP as part of the victorious Vetevendosje candidates’ list.

But her relations with the party she belonged until June 2020 were marred with ups and downs.

In 2019, under public pressure, LDK opted for Osmani for a candidate for Prime Minister, a race LDK lost to Albin Kurti’s Vetevendosje with a small margin of votes.

In March 2020, Osmani paired with Kurti against her party when LDK, minor coalition partner, tabled and won a no confidence vote against Kurti’s government in the midst of pandemic and when she refused to back an LDK-run cabinet in early June, she was dismissed from all party positions.

Months after, Osmani formed her own political initiative “Guxo” (Dare), which ran in coalition with Vetevendosje at the February 14 elections.

Osmani’s election as President opens now the way for Kosovo to addressing urgent issues on the agenda, starting from pandemic with the country remaining short on vaccine supply while a high number of infections has aggravated the situation in hospitals.

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