Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pacolli Approved as President of Kosovo

After three rounds of voting in Kosovo's parliament, wealthy businessman Behgjet Pacolli has been confirmed as the president of Kosovo.

Petrit Collaku

Pacolli, the leader of the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, was voted in with 62 votes in favour and four against, while one ballot was declared invalid.

In the first two rounds of voting in the parliament, Pacolli was not able to get the required two-thirds majority of votes in the 120-seat parliament. The third round required only a simple majority.

Opposition parties boycotted the session.

Pacolli's AKR has formed a coalition cabinet with the largest party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, led by incoming Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, and several smaller parties.

Pacolli took the oath of office immediately following the vote. In his speech, he said that a new challenge has begun for him, one that involves great responsibilities.

“Thank you for trusting me to follow the path of the historic president Ibrahim Rugova and to fulfill the will of our heroes,” Pacolli told MPs.

Pacolli, who studied in Germany in the 1970s and later moved to Switzerland, owns the international construction company Mabetex.

His company ‘renovated the Kremlin’, reportedly thanks to his close business ties with Moscow, and helped build the new capital of Kazakhstan.

Mabetex is also a major player in the Kosovo construction sector, carrying out a €15 million project on a government building and the renovation of one of Pristina’s most famous hotels, the Illyrian.

His party came third in the 2007 elections, running on a heavily technocratic programme, and promising transparency, investment and jobs.

Since then, Pacolli, 59, has acted as a defacto foreign minister, travelling the world in an attempt to secure recognitions for Kosovo.

His successes, including recognitions from the Maldives and other island states, have also led him into conflict with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He has made no secret of his desire to become president of the country.

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