Thousands of Kosovar citizens joined the call “Marching for Justice,” in demonstrating solidarity with four leaders of the former Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), who wait to be trialled by the Special Court of Hague. Even though the march was intended as a protest against the delays of the international justice, it actually turned into a political debate between the government and opposition supporters.
There obvious signs that the demonstrators were as a matter of fact angry at their government, rather than international justice. Protesters seemed more motivated against Prime Minister Kurti’s government regarding its attempts to demonize the arrested KLA leaders.
Hashim Thaci’s arresting came only a few days prior to him travelling to Washington to sign a deal with Serbia in the presence of President Donald Trump. The event was covered by a shadow of conspiracy theories as well as interchanging accusations of betrayal by Albin Kurti, who had just lost power. Kurti has openly ignored Thaci’s role as KLA leader prior, during and after his arrest. Furthermore, he was unwilling to cooperate regarding the ease of measures against Thaci, claiming through official channels that Thaci controlled the police force as well as Kosova’s army.
It was Kurti’s stance towards Thaci’s arrest that apparently sparked a wave of anger among the opposition and its supporters, whom have been accused as traitors by the current Prime Minister for the past 20 years. However, the anger has doubled lately, since Kurti has pulled back from the rhetoric that brought him to power. Despite accusations of treason against his opponents, Kurti has approved every point included in the Franco-German plan, which is a step forward in resolving Kosova’s conflict with Serbia, even though it is not a final solution.
Despite having accused Thaci as a traitor for supporting dialogue with Serbia, after coming to power, Kurti has practically approved and certified all international plans, creating for himself the image of a liar who sent his opponents to jail, only so that he could steal their power. Therefore, Sunday’s demonstration was rather aimed against Mr. Kurti, than the tribunal of Hague.
On the other hand, Sunday’s march is widely seen as a test for the government regarding the participation of citizens. The debate regarding the number of participants shows that the real conflict is between the government and the opposition, which was reflected also in the government’s nervousness. It is not so important who was right regarding the number of participants. What matters is that the debate was held between prominent supporters of Albin Kurti and well-known figures from the opposition. Even though in the last minutes the march was supported by some voices from the government, hoping that the demonstration would not be perceived as a protest against the government, it was clear that the government’s offices were the real target of the citizens’ anger.