New Kosovo president Jahjaga sets a precedent
Apr 8, 2011, 7:35 GMT
Pristina - Atifete Jahjaga, a western-schooled policewoman, set a precedent Thursday night when she became Kosovo's new president, in a broad deal struck by political parties to end a paralyzing political impasse.
Jahjaga, who turns 36 on April 20, is the first female, the youngest and the first non-partisan president of the former Serbian province with a majority Albanian population.
According to the agreement which propelled her into office, she is also the last head of state elected by the Kosovo parliament and will effectively serve only an interim term, until a new electoral regulation is put into place.
Schooled in her hometown Gjakova and a law graduate of Pristina University, Jahjaga also attended courses in police management and criminal law in Britain and the United States.
Jahjaga joined the Kosovo police force in 2000, a year after NATO ousted Belgrade's security forces from the former province to end repression against the Albanians. At the time of her nomination, she served as deputy head of the Kosovo police.
Her nomination and express election, all within the space of 24 hours, was a part of a deal struck by the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party and the largest opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).
She replaces Beghjet Pacolli, who was elected on February 22 in a flawed procedure, which led to a Constitutional Court ruling that he must step down. Jahjaga is married to a Pristina doctor.
The agreement behind her election includes a deal to pass electoral reforms, including the provisions for direct elections for president, to be held within six months.
Early parliamentary polls are also due to take place within 18 months, after new rules are implemented to minimize violations such as those which marred a snap poll on December 3.
Had Thaci's coalition and the LDK failed to agree to elect a president, Kosovo would have been forced to hold new elections immediately.
Read more about Kosovo Politics