Political leaders of Kosovo Serbs Dalibor Jevtic (L), Goran Rakic (C) and Igor Simic attend a rally in North Mitrovica, Kosovo, 6 November 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE/DJORDJE SAVIC

Kosovo to Replace Resigned Serb MPs Amid Push to ‘Defuse Tensions’

Kosovo is scrambling to replace the ten Serb MPs who quit last week in a wave of mass resignations while Kosovo and Serbia leaders are due to meet in France in a European attempt to de-escalate tensions.

Kosovo’s Central Election Commission, CEC, on Thursday replaced the ten MPs from the Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista party, less than a week after they resigned their seats in protest against the government’s action against Serbia-issued licence plates in four northern Serb-majority municipalities.

But the group could lose one seat in parliament as there were only nine names on the waiting list of candidates from the last February 2021 snap elections.

A tenth candidate to take the seat was picked by the Citizens Initiative “For Freedom, Justice and Survival’”, which was second most voted Serb party in last year’s elections.

Srpska Lista had 20 candidates on its list at the election but one of their candidates, Ivan Todosijevic, was convicted of inciting ethnic hatred for stating that the 1999 massacre of Kosovo Albanians by Serbian forces was “fabricated” by “terrorists”.

Todosijevic was replaced by another MP from Srpska Lista’s candidates, leaving only nine potential candidates to replace the resigned MPs.

Together with MPs, mayors of Serb-majority municipalities in North, councillors, judges, prosecutors, judicial staff and Serb police officers all quit their jobs en masse on Saturday.

Srpska Lista is yet to announce whether the new candidates will take the vacated seats.

On Thursday, Kosovo Serb customs officers from two northern crossing points of Jarinje and Bernjak continued the wave of resignations.

As the situation remains tense on the ground, both Kosovo and Serbia leaders, Albin Kurti and Aleksandar Vucic, have travelled to Paris to participate in a summit organized by France’s President Emanuel Macron.

In a video address on Wednesday evening, Kosovo PM Albin Kurti announced that the two leaders could meet on the margins of the summit.

On Thursday, the European Union High Representative Joseph Borrell said he will hold separate meetings with Kurti and Vucic in Paris in an attempt to “help Serbia and Kosovo to de-escalate, defuse current tensions and advance in EU facilitated Dialogue”.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the CEC postponed a decision to accept the resignations of election commissions from the four northern municipalities of Mitrovica North, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok, with the head of Commission, Kreshnik Radoniqi, saying that “there should be no rush” to approve them.

On Wednesday, heads of municipal election commissions in these municipalities submitted resignations to make the organization of mayoral by-elections more difficult.

On Thursday, Sami Kurteshi, a CEC member from the ruling Vetevendosje party, called the resignations “unfortunate”.

“I think we should not accept their resignations. I am happy that they have not resigned for being discriminated against, for any bad behaviour by the CEC. Legally, their resignations are not just,” Kurteshi said. Sami Hamiti, another CEC member from the opposition LDK, said the resignation were “not individual but a political matter”.

11/11/2022 - 09:54

11 November 2022 - 09:54

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