Kosovan_local_elections,_2008

Kosovan local elections, 2008

The 2008 Serbian local elections in Kosovo were held on May 11, 2008 as part of Serbia's parliamentary elections and elections in Vojvodina. UNMIK authorities have criticized Serbia organizing elections saying only the UN can organize elections in Kosovo. Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu accused Serbia of trying to challenge Kosovo's statehood.

There is a total of 115,712 registered voters and they will be able to vote in 295 voting places. There are 157 voting places in Central Serbia and Vojvodina, and each of the seven major Montenegrin cities has one, for refugees from Kosovo.

Background

Serbia's elections in Kosovo follow the unilateral declaration of independence by Albanian leadership in Kosovo, a declaration that Serbia considers illegal. This proposal for what many observers have called a de-facto partition was said to be in response to unrest in Northern Kosovo and other Kosovo Serb areas. Establishment of Serb institutions in Kosovo is part of the "functional division" of Kosovo proposed by the Serbian government.

Dispute over elections

UNMIK considers the holding of local elections in Serbia without its agreement as invalid and as a breach of UNSCR 1244. It has, however, proposed to hold local elections in the mostly Serb-populated municipalities of Leposavić, Zubin Potok, Štrpce, Zvečan and Novo Brdo, where the 2007 local elections were declared invalid due to the Serb voters' boycott; however, UNMIK insisted that it would have to organise the elections there, not Serbia, and that the date would likely not be 11 May 2008. UNMIK has no problem with the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the parliamentary election.

However, on 14 April 2008 the Election Commission announced it would hold local elections in Serb areas of Kosovo; internally displaced persons, whether living in Kosovo or not, will be able to vote as if they were living in the municipality from which they were displaced. Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardžić subsequently called on Joachim Rücker to sanction the elections. UNMIK spokesman Alexander Ivanko reiterated that UNMIK would view all elections held without its approval as illegal and in breach of UNSCR 1244. On April 18th, 2008 Joachim Ruecker, the Chief of UNMIK, said the elections would cross a “red line” if organized by Serbia.

The International Steering Group for Kosovo has expressed it's support for the UNMIK position saying it opposes the "institutional separation by ethnic lines" in Kosovo.

Kosovo's Assembly adopted a statement condemning Serbia’s plans to hold local elections in Kosovo and showing support for the position taken by UNMIK and President Fatmir Sejdiu. However, Kosovo police authorities have said they would not interrupt voting to prevent local elections.

Kosovo Serb Institutions

Marko Jakšić a Kosovo Serb political leader and ally of Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica said Kosovo Serbs would form their own assembly following the elections. He argued that the Kosovo Assembly was dominated by "Albanian puppets" who would not work in the interest of the Serb minority.

Following the elections Samardžić outlined the makeup of the Kosovo Serb institutions consisting of municipal assemblies and executive councils. According to Samardžić municipal governments will act in keeping with the Serbian constitution and resolve all problems independently or in agreement with Belgrade.

UNMIK officials have said they will continue working with appointed Serb leaders declaring the local elections "illegal" and pledging not to negotiate with the elected officials. Yves de Kermabon, head of the EULEX mission to Kosovo, said he was "willing to talk to everybody" including officials elected on May 11, stressing that he would go to Northern Kosovo as soon as he found people there willing to talk. Kermabon said his reason was that he does not want the EU to be "forcibly deployed" there.

The mayor of Mitrovica condemned the formation of a parallel municipal assembly in North Mitrovica by Serbs following the election saying the institution was "illegal" as well as the elections. On June 13, 2008 a parallel assembly with 30 members, the majority from the Serbian Radical Party, was formed for Pristina with the first session being held in a warehouse due to a lack of space. Radovan Nicic was elected president of the municipality by the assembly. Another assembly was formed in Obilic north of Pristina the same morning.

Serbian parties (SRS, DSS, SPS, NS and DS) agreed to form a parliament for Kosovo Serbs including 45 delegates, 43 from the local assemblies and two seats reserved for Romani and Muslims. Slobodan Samardžić announced that the Kosovo Serb assembly would be formed on June 28th. He said the body would be representative not executive. The parliament shall only be transitional before direct elections. The parliament was officially scheduled on 16 June 2008 to be held in Priština on 28 June 2008, symbolically on Saint Vitus' Day. Its official name shall be The Assembly of the Communities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohia. The parliamentary majority has been formed by the Democratic Party of Serbia, Serbian Radical Party, Socialist Party of Serbia and Civic Initiative of Gora. The opposition Democratic Party supports its constitution, but will for now boycott it. The cause of restoration of parliamentarism since 1999 was specifically stated as a reaction to the recently put in act Constitution of Kosovo and will only officialize the two separate systems which were already in act for years. It is pointed out that it is the representative body of Kosovar citizens loyal to the Republic of Serbia.

Results

In the municipal elections turnout of registered voters was at 57% Serbia's Radical Party came won in 15 municipalities, the DSS will have the most councilors in six, as well as various citizens' lists. The Radicals and DSS formed a coalition government in the parallel municipal assembly for North Mitrovica.

References

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