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Kosovo Central Election Commission to hold referendums in Serb-majority municipalities

by Derek Andrews
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The Central Election Fee (CEC) of Kosovo formally set April 21 because the scheduled date for conducting referendums relating to the dismissal of 4 Albanian mayors from municipalities. These mayors, whose elections occurred final 12 months, have been a supply of heightened tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

Residents of Serb-dominated municipalities, together with North Mitrovica, Leposaviq, Zubin Potok and Zveçan, collectively signed petitions advocating for the dismissal of the mayors. Following a January petition, which mandated the assist of at the least 20 % of eligible voters, the electoral fee confirmed {that a} quarter of the voters in these municipalities have been in favor of holding a brand new vote and ultimately, with eight votes in favour and two abstentions, the CEC determined Friday to carry referendums on April 21. The choice was wholeheartedly welcomed by the European Union Ambassador to Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, who applauded their step to schedule “for the elimination of mayors” and urged for “free and truthful voting.”

In September 2023, the federal government launched an Administrative Instruction detailing the method for dismissing a mayor via petition. In keeping with these pointers, the initiation of the dismissal course of requires a minimal of three eligible residents from the municipality to type an initiating group. They need to then formally inform the chairman of the municipal meeting of their intent to gather signatures for a petition to take away the mayor.

Subsequently, the petition should garner signatures from at the least 20 % of all registered voters within the municipality to be thought of legitimate. If the petition achieves the required threshold, a mayor may be dismissed if greater than 50 % of the overall registered voters vote in favor of the dismissal. Nevertheless, if this criterion just isn’t met, one other spherical of voting may be performed within the subsequent 12 months.

In earlier years, mayors from ethnic Albanian events have been elected to workplace in North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok, with voter turnouts as little as 3 to five %. Consequently, the federal government put in new mayors within the 4 predominantly Serb municipalities, beforehand led by Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista mayors. Thereafter, Kosovo Serbs boycotted native elections in April 2023.

The imposition of latest mayors triggered demonstrations because it angered Serbs who type a majority within the area, which escalated into clashes with the Kosovo Police and NATO’s peacekeeping mission Kosovo Pressure.

Within the final native elections in 2021, Srpska Lista, which is a Serb-dominant political get together, secured nearly all of votes in all 4 northern Serb-majority municipalities.

The roots of tensions between Serbs and Albanians date again to 1998-1999 when Serbian forces clashed with ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, leading to roughly 13,000 casualties, largely amongst ethnic Albanians. Regardless of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, Belgrade refuses to acknowledge it as a sovereign nation. Kosovo has been involved within the EU-facilitated dialogue on the normalization of relations with Serbia.

Source / Picture: jurist.org

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