Vjosa Osmani, a 38-year-old reformist and lawyer, was approved as president by Kosovo parliament in Pristina on Sunday.

Osmani received 71 votes from the 82 lawmakers present in the 120-seat parliament.

While the president’s duties are largely ceremonial, Osmani will now be the commander of the country’s armed forces and also serve as one of the country’s top diplomatic representatives.

Two opposition parties and the ethnic Serb minority party refused to take part in the vote.

Osmani started her career as a teenage activist. She studied law in Pristina and then completed her master’s and bachelor’s degrees at the US University of Pittsburgh.

She was one of the senior officials of the Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) party. However, Osmani was ousted from the organisation following inter-party strife.

She remained an immensely popular figure, securing more than 300,000 votes as a Vetevendosje candidate at the February election.

Osmani is also seen as a role model for women in the mostly patriarchal Balkan country.

Unlike Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Osmani said it was a priority for her to resume the stalled normalisation talks with Serbia.

Officially, Belgrade still views Kosovo as a Serbian province and rejects its 2008 declaration of independence.

On Sunday, Osmani once again called for dialogue, but also called on Belgrade to apologise for the 1990s conflict and persecute war criminals.

“Peace would be achieved only when we see remorse and an apology from Serbia and when we see justice for those who have suffered from their crimes,” she said.

She is Kosovo’s second female leader following Atifete Jahjaga, who served as president between 2011 and 2016.

The office became vacant in November after Hashim Thaci resigned over war crime charges. Osmani, who previously served as the speaker for Kosovo’s 120-seat parliament, took over the presidential role provisionally ahead of the Sunday vote.

The story was filed by the News Desk. The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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