Kosovo interim president takes over in void

Kosovo’s interim president took office Monday in a ceremony boycotted by his predecessor as the government battled to avoid new elections.

Former president Behgjet Pacolli failed to show up for the ceremony handing over power to parliamentary speaker Jakup Krasniqi, with his office saying he did not consider it necessary.

Kosovo has been in political turmoil since the constitutional court ruled a week ago that Pacolli’s election by parliament was unconstitutional. The court said the 120-seat parliament had lacked a quorum because of an opposition walk-out and in any case there should have been at least two candidates for the post.

Pacolli, a construction tycoon turned politician, declined formally to resign, prompting the constitutional court to issue a statement Friday saying that Krasniqi had taken over as acting president as of March 31.

Pacolli’s election as president had been the price of his New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) bolstering prime minister Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) in a coalition.

The court verdict has left the government scrambling to keep both the AKR and the opposition on side to avoid new elections, after polls in December were tarnished by allegations of fraud.

Even though his party insists Pacolli will again be the government’s presidential candidate, the leading opposition LDK party is threatening another boycott of the vote unless the government agrees to present a consensus candidate.

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