PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's government collapsed Wednesday after losing a no-confidence vote, setting the scene for an early election following months of political deadlock over a border demarcation deal that critics say would mean a loss of territory for the tiny Balkan country.
Prime Minister Isa Mustafa's coalition government lost in a 78-34 vote, with three abstentions and five lawmakers not present. The outcome means that the government has fallen about a year before an election was due. The president is now expected to set an election date within 30 to 45 days.
Opposition parties have blamed his Cabinet for being unable to carry out its program and pass important laws.
"The country is badly governed. The country needs a new government," said Valdete Bajrami of the opposition Initiative for Kosovo party, which proposed the motion.
The government had been hobbled by its inability to secure a majority in parliament over a border demarcation deal with neighboring Montenegro, despite pressure from the U.S. government. The government hasn't had enough lawmakers to pass the deal, which was signed in 2015, and Mustafa withdrew the draft bill last year. The opposition has claimed that Kosovo would lose territory under the deal, an accusation denied by the government and local and international experts.
Mustafa considered the no-confidence motion as a "political pamphlet without any argumentative basis," adding its consequence will be "the country's destabilization through creating a lack of trust in institutions, and an institutional vacuum."
The 2 ½-year governing coalition is made up of Mustafa's Democratic League of Kosovo, which has the second-biggest number of seats in the 120-seat parliament, and the Democratic Party of Kosovo of parliamentary Speaker Kadri Veseli, which is the biggest.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It is recognized by 114 countries, but not by Serbia.
Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.