Kosovo election to fail?
The turnout of voters was record low – just 45 % of the electorate left their homes to cast their votes.
The leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo promised the province would break away from Serbia soon after December 10, the deadline for internationally-mediated talks to resolve the dispute over the status of the region.
Tensions are running high between the 90% ethnic-Albanian and minority Kosovan Serb population as the issue of the province’s independence looms over the event.
Parties like the Democratic League of Kosovo – the winners of the last two general elections – much like others are pro-independence.
There have been protests in Serbia
But where parties mainly differ is in the pace of change.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by one time political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaci, are ready to make a unilateral declaration of independence soon after a contact group reports its conclusions on the region’s status to the UN Security Council next month.
“Kosovo is very different from all the other conflicts in former Russian republics or elsewhere in the world for that matter. The Kosovo conflict, the war in Kosovo, has a different history, a different background. The people who live in Kosovo have completely different history of relationships,” Mamli Krasniqi from the Democratic Party of Kosovo said.
Many of the parties argue without independence the region can’t fight corruption, high unemployment, and poverty.
The Albanian Kosovars have voted in large numbers in this election. On the contrary, ethnic Kosovan Serbs have not – boycotting it or standing as members, winning places, but not taking up their seats in the assembly.
Some people are suspicious of the motives of the well-oiled campaign and election.
“As I see, these Albanian elections are going under the control of western countries who want to create a new Albanian state in the Balkans. And I know, it’s a pity, but some people have taken bribes of up to 100 euros to vote. They want Serbs to vote so as to make their elections appear legitimate,” Marko Yakcic from the Serbian National People’s Parliament said.
There have been protests and scenes of burning ballot papers. Also, one member of the Democratic Socialist Party of Serbia running as a candidate in the assembly elections had his car fire-bombed on the eve of election day. But otherwise, it was relatively peaceful.
The results of the elections should be announced in a few days' time.
Meanwhile, the so-called Troika mediators, made up of the U.S., EU and Russia, are preparing the report on the disputed territory's status by December 10.
However, their declaration could also open up other claims for independence from frozen conflict zones like the breakaway regions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia in Georgia and Transdniester in Moldova.