12 July 2012Once seen as a placeholder to avoid a political crisis, Atifete Jahjaga should serve a full five-year term as president, the country's Constitutional Court has ruled.
Jahjaga was elected on April 7th, 2011, as a compromise candidate after the court ruled that Begjet Pacolli's election as president was unconstitutional because a boycott by opposition lawmakers left parliament short of a quorum.
Jahjaga was supposed to serve a nine-month term, but the court said on July 6th that ending her mandate early would also be a violation of the constitution.
The ruling has caused some confusion in Pristina. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said he respects the decision, but called for constitutional and election reform.
Arsim Bajrami, head of the Committee for Constitutional Changes, said in a statement that the court is assuming too much power with its interpretation of the constitution.
"Such a narrow interpretation represents the interference of this court in the constitution-giver, once it can be seen as interference in the powers of the Assembly for adoption and amendment of the constitution," Bajrami said.
Ardian Arifaj, programme director at the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, told SETimes that Jahjaga has given the country a positive image in the world, especially in the United States, and the international community will likely support her claim to the presidency.
"An additional reason, preferred by the international community, is the need for political stability in Kosovo. The international community is rushing to leave the Balkans and show [it] as a region in peace and stability; [it] does not want to see a new political crisis in Kosovo," Arifaj said.
Seb Bytyci, executive director of the Balkan Policy Institute, told SETimes that Jahjaga does not have an influential role in the constitutional changes.
"The constitutional changes will be decided by the main political parties, and since she doesn't come from a party, this should not have a great impact on the changes," Bytyci said.
Arifaj said that the political parties -- if they want to end the mandate of the president -- cannot impeach her just to respect their agreement.
"Political parties cannot dismiss President Jahjaga. [She] is serving under the constitution of Kosovo and the constitution clearly specifies when the president may be removed from office. The president may be dismissed if the Constitutional Court considers that it has seriously violated the constitution, which President Jahjaga has never done before," Arifaj said.
Erzen Vreniqi, spokesperson of the opposition Vetvendosje movement, told SETimes that the movement has not supported the election of Jahjaga based on the agreement among political parties, and does not support any impeachment based on that agreement.
"We think that the selection and terms of office cannot be outside institutional agreements over the constitution, so as we have rejected its election in such a manner we are also against the end of the mandate in the same line. We do not accept amendments that are against the constitution and over the constitution," Vreniqi said.