Celebrations in Kosovo's capital Priština on February 17 2011, the third anniversary of the country's declaration of independence.
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Hashim Thaçi, whose party won the largest share of votes in Kosovo’s December 2010 elections, will continue in office as prime minister after signing a governing coalition agreement on February 19 with New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) leader Bejet Pacolli and with Independent Liberal Party (SLS) leader Slobodan Petrović.
Pacolli, reportedly a billionaire, will become Kosovo’s president. His AKR will get three ministries, respectively in charge of the Kosovo Security Force, health, and trade and industry portfolios.
AKR’s Muhamet Mustafa will be a deputy prime minister, as will SLS leader Petrović.
The SLS will have three ministries, local self government, communities and return, and labour and social welfare.
The coalition agreement was also signed with representatives of minorities, who will have the environmental and spatial planning ministry, while it was expected that a further signing on February 20 would bring the Ibrahim Rugova List party into the coalition as well.
News agency Reuters quoted Thaçi as saying that the coalition was "for a new Kosovo, for its development, democratic reforms, building a multi-ethnic society, creating new jobs and a European perspective".
The leading issue facing the new government will be the opening of dialogue with Serbia on a range of "technical issues". Belgrade refuses to recognise Kosovo as independent but has formed a team to discuss with Priština such as refugee return, missing persons and practical issues such as telecommunications.
The December 12 2010 elections followed a political crisis sparked by the withdrawal of Thaçi’s party’s previous coalition partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which, led by Isa Mustafa, received about 23 percent of the ballots cast, making it the second-largest party in Kosovo’s 120-member assembly.