News 03 Sep 13

Kosovo Tackles Ballot Paper Logo Dispute

The election commission has stepped in to calm a row over the logo on ballot papers for Kosovo’s local polls in November which had threatened to discourage Serbs from voting.

Edona Peci

The Central Election Commission, CEC, announced on Monday that the ballot papers for the November 3 local elections will only show its own emblem, not Kosovo’s state logo, in an attempt to calm objections from Belgrade, which does not recognise Pristina’s independence.

“The ballot paper will contain all the elements that the law on general elections requires. The ballot paper will have the logo of the Central Election Commission and will be the same for the entire territory of Kosovo,” the CEC said in a written statement.

The decision came after President Atifete Jahjaga urged the CEC on Monday to find a solution to end the logo row.

“These elections have to be democratic, free, fair and comprehensive. Therefore [we] encourage the CEC to find solutions which would be appropriate for all citizens and which would ensure a massive turnout at the elections,” Jahjaga said in a written statement.

She underlined that any solution “should respect the constitutionality and legality of the Republic of Kosovo”.

In every election held since 2008, when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, the logo on all ballots has been the emblem of the Kosovo state.

But officials in Belgrade have urged its removal from the ballot papers for the November 3 local polls, saying that “the elections are based on status neutrality”.

The logo issue has become more significant because Pristina hopes that these local elections will help to integrate the northern, Serb-run part of Kosovo into its institutions, as part of the EU-brokered deal for the normalisation of relations that it struck with Belgrade in April.

The OSCE, which is involved in helping to organise the vote, has called for "a mutually agreed solution" to the dispute.

The last local elections in Kosovo were held in November 2009, but the vote was boycotted in the northern Serb-run municipalities, where local leaders were elected in a separate vote organised by Belgrade.

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