Global Policy Forum

Kosovo: Local Media Accuse NGOs of Protest Plans

As civil society protests in the Middle East and North Africa continue, local media sources in Kosovo claim to have uncovered NGO plans to overturn that region's government.  Early parliamentary elections were held in Kosovo in December 2010.  The election was marred by claims of electoral fraud and mistakes in vote counting, which required partial re-polling.  The release of a Council of Europe report, implicating Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi in organ trafficking, added further controversy.  Large scale protests were to be held in March, but the plan ultimately appears to have collapsed after some NGOs withdrew, stating it was not in line with their missions.

By Petrit Collaku

March 16, 2011
Some Kosovo media have criticised civil society organisations for reportedly preparing to protest against the country's new government and president.

A leaked document published by local media shows an action plan drafted by NGOs in Pristina that included protests against the controversial election of Kosovo's president and the new structure of the government, which they say does not represent the will of people.

The organisations also voiced serious concern over the direct involvement of international officials in the election of the president, according to the leaked document.

While local media have said that the document shows the NGOs hoped to overthrow the government, it appears that the civil society organisations' protest plans were later dropped.

According to the leaked document, the NGOs drafted an action plan to express their dissatisfaction through a campaign set to include protests in March.

"Actions to be taken in the frame of this campaign aim to make corrections and will not stop until necessary standards are secured that respect the will of the citizens, legitimacy within institutions and the democratic functioning of Kosovo's state," the action plan reads.

The NGOs were planning a series of protests, set to begin in front of Kosovo's Assembly on March 7 and end with a major protest on March 20.

The Foreign Policy Club, FPC, and several NGOs representing Kosovo's civil society met to draft the plan the day after the Kosovo government and president were approved in the parliament on February 22. The election of Behgjet Pacolli as president was marred by accusations of international involvement and improper procedural actions.

Just before the implementation of the draft, several NGOs stepped back from the plan, claiming that the action plan does not match their mission and opposing efforts to coordinate the protests in cooperation with political parties.

While some media in Kosovo have accused the FPC and other NGOs of trying to organise a putsch against Kosovo's government, the organisations have denied that this was their intention.

Igballe Rogova, head of Kosova Women's Network, said her group participated in the meetings and explained that the main aim was to express dissatisfaction with the recent political developments in the country.

"I think that some media that are pro-government are publishing stories based on rumours," Rogova told Balkan Insight.

She added that particularly the daily newspaper Epoka e Re and some other media outlets have missed the main point of the meetings.

"The NGOs have the right to make action plans and in this case there were some NGOs that did not agree with some ideas and left. That's it," Rogova said.

Meanwhile, the FPC has said that its mission does not include organising civil disobedience.

"FPC is not mandated by its board to deal with any organisation outside its plan and programme of action. It is not up to the FPC to organise or advocate forms of expressions of dissatisfaction or civil disobedience," a press release from the NGO reads.

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