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article imageCoalition led by former rebel leaders leads in Kosovo election

By Ken Hanly     Jun 12, 2017 in Politics
Pristina - Almost complete results from the Kosovo national election show that a coalition of ethnic Albanians, former leaders in the war of independence waged in 1998-1999 against Serbian troops, are leading, receiving about a third of the votes.
The Central Election Commission(CEC) reported that the coalition was in first place with around 34 percent of the votes with more than 99 percent of the vote already counted. Second were the Movement for Self-Determination with about 27 percent and third a coalition led by the former PM Isa Mustafa with about 26 percent. The final official results are expected later in the week.
There are 120 seats in the parliament with 20 of them reserved for ethnic Serbs and other minorities. Head of the Commission Vaidete Daka said that heavy traffic caused blockage of the CEC website temporarily and that final results should be posted later in the week.
Ramush Haradinaj, who is the nominee for PM of the leading coalition said in a rally in the capital Pristina that he knew that there was a lot of work to be done but that they could achieve it together. The nationalist Movement for Self-determination was also happy with the results as they doubled their vote from the last election. Their former leader Aibin Kurti is their nominee for PM. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said that the election was a victory for hard-liners and would create " a lot of difficulties and problems" but said that an EU-mediated dialogue with Kosovo must continue. The Serbs consider Haradinaj a war criminal. The Serbs tried to get him extradited from France where he was detained on a Serbian arrest warrant.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 but Serbia refuses to recognize its independence. EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn said that he hoped that Kosovo representatives sought a future perspective in which there were better living conditions and within the European Union: "It's now the responsibility of political leaders in the country to form — very fast hopefully — a new government ... it's so important for this country to stay committed to the reforms." A statement from the US Embassy in Pristina congratulated voters on the democratic elections but noted concern that there "some reports of outdated voter registries, double-voting, and other sporadic irregularities'. Nevertheless a statement said: "The voters of Kosovo have spoken, and now the critical process of forming a new government must begin. We look forward to working closely with whomever forms the new government."
Among the issues any new government must face is approving a border demarcation deal with neighboring Montenegro. The deal must be approved before Kosovo will be able to enter the EU's Schengen zone without a visa. A further issue involves some senior ethnic Albanian commanders from the Independence War who face indictments for alleged crimes against civilians both during and after the war. The government will no doubt be a coalition as no group won enough seats to form a majority.
The winning coalition was led by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of president Hashim Thaci. The media has dubbed the alliance the 'war wing'. PM nominee Haradinaj said that the elections were the best ever held in Kosovo: "The victory is convincing and makes us capable of operating further to create the country's government." The Movement for Self-Determination also claimed a victory in that it doubled its vote. It has pledged to take on rampant corruption in the government.
The election was called after 78 MPs of the 120 backed a vote of non-confidence in the government. This is the third election that Kosovo has had since declaring independence in 2008. Most of the 1.8 population in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians. The country is beset by economic problems with unemployment at a whopping 27.5 percent. Fully half the population is under age 30. Many young people leave the country to find work elsewhere in Europe. Turnout in the elections was a meagre 41.4 percent slightly below the 2014 turnout of 42.63 percent.
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