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News 14 Mar 13

Kosovo Stages Mass Protest Over Corruption

Thousands of protesters took on Wednesday to the streets of Pristina in a march against official “theft and corruption" and demanding ministerial resignations.

BIRN
Pristina
 

Holding banners that read “Stop theft, develop the state”, protesters marched through the capital of Kosovo to government headquarters to voice their anger about official graft, poverty and corruption in state institutions.

Arta Dobroshi, an actress who recently won the 63rd Berlinale Shooting Star Award, said: “The moment has come for the people of Kosovo to come together and show that we want a beautiful Kosovo, with a good economy and without corruption.”

The protest comes on the back of earlier demonstrations over new, higher energy bills issued by the Kosovo Energy Corporation, KEK, in January.

Protesters yesterday, supported by 21 non-governmental organizations, urged the authorities to stop disconnecting energy consumers and stop the hikes in energy prices.

They also urged the authorities to start probing corruption in Kosovo institutions and to bring any perpetrators of abuses to justice.

“KEK is just one aspect of the deep corruption in our institutions,” the organizers of the protest said in a press release.

Last week, KEK's board of directors suspended four officials from the Pristina District for suspected graft. But protesters have also called for the resignation of Besim Beqaj, Minister of Economy, Bajram Rexhepi, the Interior Minister and Arben Gjuka, KEK's executive director.

"Arben Gjuka-out, Bajram Rexhepi-out, Besim Beqaj-out...You have one week to meet this demand," Ilir Deda told the rally in front of the government building.

Deda is head of the non-governmental Kosovar Institute for Policy, Research and Development and was formerly a political advisor to the Kosovo president.

Economy Minister Beqaj later said the government was dealing with people's concerns about high utility bills.

“I have sent a letter to the Energy Regulatory Office and asked for a final report and [once we receive it] we will take adequate measures,” he said.

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