All eyes on turnout in municipal elections in Kosovo
Voter turnout was being keenly watched in the November 3 2013 elections in Kosovo for mayors and municipal councillors, after exhortations by Kosovo and Serbian officials for people to go to the polls.
In all, more than 1.7 million people were eligible to vote in the municipal elections, choosing mayors and councillors in 39 municipalities in Kosovo.
According to the central election commission in Kosovo, there were 103 lists and 7932 candidates.
Serbia’s B92 said that 3pm local time, turnout was 32 per cent. Polls were scheduled to close at 7pm Central European Time.
A Serbian mayoral candidate in the northern Serbian stronghold of Mitrovica was slightly injured on November 1 when he was attacked by two masked men, the Voice of America reported.
On the eve of municipal elections in Kosovo, the United Nations mission there said that police and international security were undertaking all necessary measures to ensure a safe election period following attacks at least two of the candidates, the UN News Centre reported.
“UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) strongly condemns the recent violence against figures involved in the election process,” a spokesperson said, adding that while the nature of their cause is still being investigated, “such attacks must be condemned by all.”
The democratic process demands an environment free of violence and intimidation, the Mission emphasised.
“Any attempts to influence political developments by these means will fail, and only discredit those who might encourage or engage in such behaviour to forward a particular viewpoint,” it said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a respect for diversity and wide participation in the elections.
“Free and fair elections this Sunday will constitute a milestone in the strengthening of peace and security in Kosovo,” he said in a statement issued on November 1.
Plans for the elections were part of the landmark agreement between Belgrade and Pristina initialed in Brussels under the auspices of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Top Serbian officials urged Serbs in Kosovo to vote in the November 3 local elections, saying that only a high turnout would ensure their “survival” there, Belgrade-based B92 said on November 1.
“Your Serbia is calling you and wants to help you to, with your children, live in your home, on your property, safely and with hope in the eyes. Do not make a mistake, the mistake we would never be able to correct, a joint statement issued on Friday by Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić, prime minister Ivica Dačić, and his first deputy Aleksandar Vučić.
“Be accountable to your descendants. Long live Serbia.”
(Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/flickr.com)