Pristina mayor is new LDK head


Former Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu suffered another loss Sunday when his own party ousted him as chairman, just weeks ahead of snap elections.

By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 08/11/10


Pristina Mayor Isa Mustafa is elected to the top post in the LDK. [Linda Karadaku/SETimes]

Isa Mustafa, the mayor of Pristina, is the new chairman of Kosovo's second largest political party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). He took nearly two thirds of the vote in an election for the leadership, held on Sunday (November 7th) during a party convention.

Mustafa got 235 votes, compared to 125 for incumbent LDK leader and former Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu. Unlike previous party congresses, which saw controversies and disturbances, this one went smoothly.

The new leader said the LDK remains "a symbol of democracy and political culture", adding no other party in Kosovo can compare "when it comes to tolerance and understanding, given the fact that LDK members can have different opinions".

Saying the vote had paved the way for major changes, he called on supporters to help strengthen the party. "I invite you all who are part of LDK, to stand up for it, build it up, work and move together, in order to have the electorate return to the LDK family," Mustafa said.

For outgoing head Sejdiu, the results were yet another blow. In September, he stepped down as president after the country's constitutional court ruled against him, saying it was a violation to serve as head of state while also holding the LDK chairmanship.

Sejdiu now has lost both positions. In a gesture of respect, however, Mustafa nominated his predecessor as honourary chairman, and the convention agreed by acclamation.

The new party leader is 59 years old, an economist by profession and a university professor. He is married and has two sons and a daughter.

He was elected Pristina mayor in 2007 and served as minister of Economy and Finance for the Kosovo government-in-exile, led by Bujar Bukoshi, from 1991 to 1999.

Mustafa was welcomed with chanting "Isa, Isa" when he entered the party convention.

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"Now, I will vote again for LDK", Ylber, a former LDK supporter, told SETimes in Pristina, saying he had followed the convention with interest.

But Amor, another former supporter, was less optimistic, saying he doubted the party will be able to regain its old position at the head of Kosovo politics.

"Times have changed," he said.

Bujar Bukoshi, who had earlier mounted a challenge to Sejdiu's leadership, did not participate in Sunday's convention. He and Uke Rugova, son of the late president Ibrahim Rugova, are instead running an alternative candidate list in the December 12th national elections.

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