Thousands attend anti-government event in Pristina on eighth anniversary of country’s declaration of independence.
The government of Kosovo fell on Wednesday after members of parliament backed a no-confidence motion, paving the way for a snap legislative election next month.
Prime Minister Isa Mustafa failed to win the confidence of 78 out of the body’s 120 MPs, marking an end to the coalition of his Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and President Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party (PDK).
The no-confidence motion was launched by the opposition, which had accused the government of failing to meet its campaign pledges and creating public distrust. The motion was also supported by the PDK.
Following the vote, Thaci dissolved parliament. According to the constitution, an election must be held within 45 days.
In a speech to the parliament in Pristina ahead of the vote, Mustafa said his government had done a good job in tackling unemployment and maintaining low public debt.
“In my government, there are no corrupt people,” he said.
However, in the past 18 months, the work of parliament has been interrupted by incidents including street riots, opposition deputies throwing tear gas and firing of a rocket-propelled grenade at the building.
Valdete Bajrami, from the opposition party NISMA which initiated the motion, told parliament: “Our country needs a new direction.”
The coalition had been deadlocked for months, unable to pass crucial regulation on matters such as a border agreement with Montenegro, minority rights and even the armed forces.
The border agreement was a condition the European Union placed on Kosovo in order to lift entry visa requirements for its citizens. A new election is expected to further postpone the adoption of a demarcation deal with Montenegro.
Kosovo also has yet to regulate the status of minority Serb communities in the mostly Albanian Kosovo, part of a normalisation agreement the EU brokered between Pristina and Belgrade.
For Serbia, keeping to the provisions of the normalisation agreement is a condition for negotiating EU accession and eventually joining the EU.
Kosovo is a former province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, nine years after NATO intervened against Serbia in order to stop a heavy-handed crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels.
It has been recognised by more than 110 countries in the meantime, but not gained a seat at the United Nations, owing to Russia – which has backed Serbia’s opposition to the move.