Kosovo’s 38-year-old female president takes office, becomes world’s youngest head of the state - GulfToday

Kosovo’s 38-year-old female president takes office, becomes world’s youngest head of the state

Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu inspects the Guard of Honour during a presidential hand over ceremony in Pristina on Tuesday. AP

Kosovo’s new president took office, becoming the country’s youngest head of state and one of the youngest in the world.

Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, 38, was elected to a five-year term on Sunday by Kosovo’s Assembly, making her the Balkan nation’s second female leader in the post-war period.

Vjosa Osmani with her husband Prindon Sadriu and their twin daughters attend the presidential hand over ceremony in Pristina. AP

Osmani-Sadriu took office on Tuesday in a ceremony with a guard of honour.  Acting President Glauk Konjufca handed over the country’s constitution, avoiding a more formal ceremony due to the pandemic.

Osmani-Sadriu was formerly acting president from November until late March. She replaced Hashim Thaci, who resigned after facing charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity at a special court based in The Hague.

Thaci was a guerrilla leader during Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia in the late 1990s.

The post of Kosovo’s president is largely ceremonial, but she also plays a leading role in foreign policy and as the commander of the armed forces.

Vjosa Osmani addresses members of the parliament. AFP

Resuming normalisation talks with former war foe Serbia will be a priority on her list, even though the government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said it’s not high among its own goals.

Kosovo became independent in 2008. It is recognised by more than 100 countries but not by Serbia or Serbian allies like Russia and China.

Outrage over MP's sexist remarks against new Kosovo president

Before parliament had even finished voting her into office, Kosovo's new president Osmani was already the apparent target of sexist remarks from an MP and professor, whose denigrating comment sparked a protest on Monday calling for his resignation.

Vjosa Osmani arrives for a parliament session to elect new president in Pristina. AFP

Carrying posters that read "Sexists out," around 50 students rallied outside the University of Pristina to demand the dismissal of political science professor and opposition politician Ardian Kastrati.

While Kastrati did not directly name Osmani on Facebook on Sunday night — posted as other MPs were voting in her into office — he wrote that an excerpt from an article describing a former senior female official during the Ottoman era had "made me laugh with tears tonight."

The article he cited described the woman as having "a bucket-like belly and legs like a wooden container, with a pair of thick and mature hands, and with a swollen and red face like a pepper."

Kastrati, who was elected in February's snap poll, removed the post after it started generating a backlash. He said he had not been targeting Osmani specifically.
But students and many others found that denial hard to believe.

"Kastrati last night commented insultingly and denigratingly on President Vjosa Osmani's physique," said Liridona Sijarina, one of the student demonstrators.
"This language causes hate speech, and when it is done by public figures... should be punished."

Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu also denounced the "low level language which should be strongly condemned and opposed."

"There is no room (at the university) for sexists and misogynists who insult powerful women just because they themselves are powerless," she added.

Associated Press / Agence France-Presse

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