Kosovo holds extraordinary local elections in Serb-majority municipalities

8


BELGRADE, Serbia

Voters in Kosovo’s Serb-majority municipalities are heading to the polls Sunday for extraordinary local elections to choose new mayors.

Polling stations in North Mitrovica, Zubin Potok, Leposavic, and Zvecan municipalities are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time (0500GMT-1700GMT) for some 46,556 registered voters.

A total of 23 voting centers, including some containers in safe areas, are set by the Kosovo Central Election Commission.

Political parties belonging to Kosovo Serbs, who constitute the majority in the region, announced that they would boycott the election.

Serb List, the largest Serbian party in Kosovo, announced that they are boycotting the elections because the government of Kosovo added difficult-to-reach clauses in the election rules so that mayors can be dismissed through elections.

In order for mayors to be removed from office, 50% plus 1% of the voters of the municipality in question must vote in that direction.

The Kosovo police, NATO’s Peace Force in Kosovo (KFOR), and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) took extensive security measures in the region to hold the election.

After the extraordinary local elections held on April 23, 2023 in four municipalities in the north of Kosovo (Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Leposavic, and Northern Mitrovica) were boycotted by the majority Serbs, the candidates of the minority Albanian political parties won the elections.

Kosovo Serbs organized demonstrations that lasted weeks after the Albanian mayors took office.

Tensions arose between the Kosovo police and Kosovo Serbs, who were sent to the region to protect the Albanian mayors, and on May 29, 2023, dozens of KFOR soldiers were injured as a result of the confrontation between KFOR soldiers protecting the municipal buildings and Kosovo Serbs.

The EU demanded that Kosovo hold new local elections in the region, and then began to impose “punitive measures” on the country because it did not take steps to reduce tensions.

The Kosovo government had also announced that it had made the necessary legal regulations regarding the removal of mayors by collecting a certain percentage of signatures and then holding elections.

Kosovo Serbs gathered the required number of signatures in January to remove the mayors in the region, paving the way for elections.

Source: AA