Pristina: Kosovo`s two main political parties Monday struck a surprise deal calling for the nomination of veteran politician Isa Mustafa as prime minister, in a move to end a nearly six-month political crisis.
Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga officially proposed Mustafa as prime minister-designate to parliament following the deal between Mustafa`s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and outgoing prime minister Hashim Thaci`s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK).
Thaci has led the tiny country since it unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008.
Parliament was debating the proposal and lawmakers were expected to vote on it later in the day.
Mustafa, a 63-year-old former economist who had pledged to turn around the economy of one of Europe`s poorest countries, would have a tough job as premier.
In the run-up to snap elections in June, his electoral pitch included a pledge to secure jobs for everyone "to make the life of our citizens as easy as possible."
But a third of Kosovo`s population of 1.7 million is unemployed and some 40 percent live in dire poverty.
Monday`s deal paves the way to form a new government to end a political stalemate that has plagued Kosovo since snap elections in June.
But in the volatile world of Balkans politics, it aroused strong passions among Mustafa`s detractors who claim he is power-crazy enough to do anything for power.
Irate LDK supporters vandalised the party office in the capital Pristina, while others slammed Mustafa for "selling out" and called him a "sly fox."
"He is a technocrat of the old economic school who has proved himself only as a master at pulling strings behind the scenes," an insider said, speaking on condition of anonymity.Although Thaci`s PDK came first in the June 8 vote with only 37 seats in the 120-strong parliament, it was unable to form a ruling coalition that backed Thaci as prime minister.
The LDK than formed a bloc with four opposition parties aimed at blocking Thaci`s third mandate and pledged to form their own coalition.
But a clause in the constitution stating that the election front-runner alone can nominate the speaker of parliament blocked the opposition from naming its own candidate.
That triggered a political crisis as a government cannot be formed under Kosovo law until a speaker has been named.
So after a months-long battle, Mustafa eventually turned his back on his opposition allies and reached a deal with his main rival.
Born on May 15, 1951 in a village near Pristina, Mustafa was a youth leader and cabinet member in the 1970s and 1980s when Kosovo was part of the communist former Yugoslavia.
But this period is glossed over in his official biography and his opponents still call him a "communist chameleon."
Mustafa then served as finance minister for eight years in the exiled government that Kosovo Albanians formed in Germany before their 1998-1999 war against forces loyal to then Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
As finance minister, he was in charge of a fund through which the diaspora financed the Kosovo Albanians` resistance movement.
Mustafa`s opponents blame him for never explaining publicly how the fund -- amounting to tens of millions of euros -- was used.
Before he took to politics full-time, Mustafa taught for three decades at the Pristina university, where he graduated with a doctorate degree in economics.
He made his political comeback in 2007, when he was elected Pristina mayor.
In 2010 Mustafa took over the helm of the LDK which for years was the dominant party but went into decline after the death of its founder Ibrahim Rugova in 2006.