Coronavirus row helps topple Kosovo government

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Reuters

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Prime Minister Albin Kurti was at odds with his coalition partners

The Kosovo government collapsed after a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Albin Kurti was supported by a majority of parliamentarians.

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The vote was proposed by a junior coalition partner, irritated by Kurti's approach to fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

This happens just two months after the government took office.

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It is unclear how the political impasse will be resolved, as elections cannot be held because of the pandemic.

Doctors warned that without a clear direction, the disease could overwhelm Kosovo's underfunded health system.

The Balkan country has at least 70 confirmed cases and one death from Covid-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Correspondents say the political crisis has angered citizens who want the country's leaders to focus on measures to combat the spread of the virus.

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With street protests banned because of a blockade, residents of the capital Pristina are tapping pots and pans on their balconies to vent their frustration with the disputes.

A protester who managed to bypass security outside parliament on Wednesday lifted a ban on entry that said: "The most dangerous pandemic in Kosovo is politics. Shame on you!"

The vote of no confidence was initiated by the junior partner in Kurti's coalition, the center-right LDK (Democratic League) party.

LDK has been in conflict with Kurti for several weeks, but the final straw came when the Prime Minister sacked LDK Minister Agim Veliu. Veliu supported President Hashim Thaci's calls for a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus. Kurti insisted that such a measure was not justified.

More than 80 deputies in the 120-member assembly supported the vote after almost 12 hours of debate.

Analysts say Kurti's party is unlikely to try to form a new government.

Last October's general election was the fourth since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Serbia does not recognize the country and, with the support of Russia, has prevented it from becoming a member of the UN and other international bodies.

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Media captionThe conflict that will not go away: BBC correspondents explain the Kosovo war two decades later

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