Two Kosovo-Albanian parties, the governing Vetevendosje and opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, won the snap elections in the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo, amid a low number of votes and a boycott by Serbian List.
According to the preliminary results published by the Central Election Commission, CEC, the ruling Lëvizja Vetëvendosje party has won the mayoral race in the mainly Serbian municipality of North Mitrovica with its candidate Erden Atiq, with 519 votes or 66.5 per cent of votes cast, and in Leposaviq, where its candidate, Lulzim Hetemi, polled 100 votes, or 73.5 per cent.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, won in Zvecan with its candidate Ilir Peci who got 114 votes or 60.0 per cent of votes cast and in Zubin Potok with Izmir Zeqiri who got 196 votes, or 52.1 per cent.
In North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok, extraordinary elections for mayors of municipalities and early elections for the two municipal assemblies Zvecan and Leposavic were held on Sunday.
But only 1,567 citizens, or about 3.47 per cent of registered voters, had voted by 7pm on Sunday in the Serb-dominated north, according to the CEC. Some 45,095 citizens had the right to vote in the four municipalities.
Through the day, 837 voters, or 4.62 per cent of the population of North Mitrovica municipality voted, 141 voters or 1.06 per cent voted in the municipality of Leposavic, 385 voters or 5.78 per cent voted in Zubin Potok, and 204 voters or 2.92 per cent voted in Zvecan.
The Chairman of the CEC, Kreshnik Radoniqi, said: “The CEC has provided the opportunity and conditions for all citizens with the right to vote in these municipalities to use their constitutional right to elect their representatives and democratic institutions”.
At a press conference held after the voting centres closed, Radoniqi also thanked the security institutions for the smooth running of the process.
The NGO Democracy in Action, DIA, which monitored the elections in the north, said the security of the electoral process was guaranteed by the police, which had a presence near all the voting centres.
“The electoral process was concluded without any incident or threat to the integrity of the electoral process,” DIA added.
But the DIA also said the withdrawal of Serbian candidates from the elections in the four northern municipalities resulted in a boycott by Serbian voters.
Serbian List, the largest party of the Serbian community in Kosovo, supported by Belgrade, did not participate.
On Sunday, the chairman of the party, Goran Rakic, urged Serbs in the north to boycott the election.
“Because of every Serb unjustly arrested, because of every lie told by Kurti [PM Albin Kurti], because of every bullet fired at Serbian children, because of the daily repercussion that the Serbian people suffer, because of the incessant mistreatment of Serbs by special forces in the north, because of the fear among Serbs that Kurti's policy inspires, because of every damaged Serbian holy object and every ruined monument, because of non-implementation of all signed agreements!!! Boycott of illegitimate and illegal elections!!!" he wrote on Facebook.
Kosovo authorities installed containers in four Serb-dominated northern municipalities to be used as polling stations on Sunday.
As election day approached, the leading candidate for mayor of Leposavic, Aleksandar Jablanovic, founder of another smaller Serb-led party with a strong base in Leposavic, Party of Kosovo Serbs, on Thursday announced the withdrawal of his own candidacy and that of his party candidates, citing a lack of conditions.
“We call on our citizens and supporters who were ready to vote for us to not go to polling stations on Sunday. There are no adequate conditions for elections to be held,” Jablanovic said.
His withdrawal left Leposavic with no Serbian candidate, although Serbs make up the vast majority of the population there. Two other Albanian candidates representing the Vetevendosje party and the PDK were running.
Only one Serbian candidate in all four municipalities remained in the race. Sladjana Pantovic was as an independent candidate for Zvecan municipality.
The elections were supposed to be held on December 18 last year but, after a series of violent incidents and pressure from the international community, Kosovo postponed them.
They were triggered when all mayors in the four Serb-majority municipalities resigned from Kosovo state institutions last November, claiming that an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo had been breached after the Kosovo government stopped recognising Serbian-issued vehicle plates.
In the last local elections, in 2021, Serbian List won by far the most votes in all four municipalities, polling 97.1 per cent of the votes in Leposavic, 81.54 per cent in Zubin Potok, 96.04 per cent in Zvecan and 89.17 per cent in North Mitrovica.
23 April 2023 - 21:55
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