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Kosovo's ruling coalition unravels, likely triggering elections

From Vlora Rustemi, For CNN
Former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaci, became prime minister in 2007.
Former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaci, became prime minister in 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Democratic League of Kosovo withdraws from prime minister's government
  • Coalition ends after forming in 2008
  • Political crisis could affect European Union-sponsored talks between Kosovo and Serbia
  • Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo's independence
RELATED TOPICS
  • Kosovo
  • Serbia
  • The Balkans

Pristina, Kosovo (CNN) -- Kosovo's ruling coalition unraveled Saturday after a key party announced it is withdrawing from Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's government, likely triggering early elections.

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) announced that it will break with Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), ending the coalition that has governed the country since 2008.

The move comes a day after Kosovo's acting President and Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi announced that early elections would be held February 13. Saturday's announcement will likely move those elections up further.

The announcement came from LDK leader Fatmir Sejdiu, who until recently was president of Kosovo.

The LDK will withdraw from the ruling coalition Monday, Sejdiu said in an interview with Radio and Television of Kosovo.

Krasniqi had called the February elections after coalition partners failed to agree on a new president in the wake of Sejdiu's resignation earlier this month.

Sejdiu resigned after a court ruled that he violated the law by holding two posts -- the presidency and the top spot in his party -- at the same time.

The political crisis may affect European Union-sponsored talks between Kosovo and Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo's independence. Serbia agreed to talks with Kosovo after international pressure.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged both sides to start negotiations during visits to Pristina and Belgrade -- the capitals of Kosovo and Serbia, respectively -- this month.

Kosovo declared its independence in February 2008, nearly a decade after NATO bombings against Serbia in 1999 ended the nation's slaughter of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Since independence, Kosovo has been recognized by 70 countries, including the United States and most European Union member states.