Vehicles move in the streets decorated with Serbian flags in Northern Mitrovica, Kosovo, 06 November 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE/DJORDJE SAVIC

Kosovo Serb Party to Boycott Vote to Dismiss ‘Unwanted’ Mayors

Belgrade-backed party surprisingly announces boycott of April 21 vote to dismiss northern mayors, claiming Prime Minister Kurti has 'done everything for the vote to fail'.

The scheduled April 21 vote in Kosovo on the dismissal of four northern mayors has been put into question after Srpska Lista representatives submitted their resignations to the Central Election Commission, CEC, on Monday.

“We received resignations from four members of Municipal Election Commissions whio were appointed earlier as representatives of Srpska Lista,” Valmir Elezi, CEC Spokesperson, told BIRN.

The resignations come only days after the CEC set up municipal commissions in four northern Serb-majority municipalities, North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok, appointing four executive officials who would serve as heads of the commissions in the municipalities. It had also appointed 27 members representing parliamentary parties.

But on Sunday, the Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party announced that it would boycott the vote on the dismissal of mayors, less than three months after it organised mass collections of signatures to make the dismissal vote happen.

“The position of Srpska Lista is to not participate in the referendum called by [Kosovo’s Prime Minister] Albin Kurti because he has done everything for the vote to fail,” Zlatan Elek told the media in North Mitrovica on Sunday.

The US embassy in Kosovo told BIRN that it regrets Srpska Lista’s move. “We appreciate the efforts made by Kosovan election officials to allow all Kosovan citizens to participate in this democratic process.  All citizens registered in the north of Kosovo have the opportunity to participate,” the embassy said.

“The US position is clear and unchanged: We support Kosovo’s diverse, inclusive, multi-ethnic democracy and the free, fair, and legitimate elections that underpin it,” it added.

On January 17, hundreds of residents in four municipalities with a Serb majority in northern Kosovo signed petitions to dismiss mayors elected by handfuls of votes. After reviewing the signatures, the CEC announced their validity for the four municipalities and announced a date for a dismissal vote.

For a mayor finally to be dismissed, 50 per cent of the overall number of voters need to vote in favour, plus one. Otherwise, a repeat initiative can only be made one year later.

The four municipalities ended up with ethnic Albanian mayors after Serbs boycotted the local elections in April 2023. As a result, North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok saw mayors from ethnic Albanian parties elected to office on tiny turnouts of only 3 to 5 per cent.

In the previous 2019 local elections, which Serbs from the north did not boycott, the turnout was 51.07 per cent in Zubin Potok. 39.38 per cent in North Mitrovica, 42.53 per cent in Leposavic and 45.30 per cent in Zvecan.

and 08/04/2024 - 18:47

08 April 2024 - 18:47

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