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news 05 Nov 13

North Kosovo Polls to Be Discussed in Brussels

After violence disrupted weekend voting in Serb-run northern Kosovo, the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia are to try to resolve election issues related to the north in Brussels.

Beta, BIRN team Belgrade, Pristina

Kosovo's Central Election Commission said mayors for ten municipalities were elected in the first round of last weekend's local elections.

Mayors for Kosovo's remaining 24 municipalities will be elected in the second round of voting, it confirmed.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, won in Glogovac, Kacanik, Srbica and Stimlje, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, won in Kosovo Polje, Istok and Podujevo, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, won in Decani, and the Turkish People's Party of Kosovo won in Mamusa. An independent candidate, Refki Suma, won in Djeneral Jankovic.

The Commission did not publish any results from the election in the four mainly Serbian municipalities of northern Kosovo - North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic.

Many voters in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo boycotted the election and masked men attacked several polling stations on the Serb side of the divided northern town of Mitrovica, causing some to close early.

The violence in the north has drawn widespread international condemnation.

“I strongly condemn the violent incidents in polling stations of Mitrovica north. All voters have the right to participate in elections in a safe and secure environment, free of violence. The incidents must be investigated without delay,” Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said on Tuesday.

Over 100 European observers monitored the elections on November 3, while the mission will be on the ground also on December 1 for the second round in several municipalities.

Referring to the incidents in the north, Roberto Gualtieri, chief of the observer mission, said: “It was an attack on the fundamental right of people to express their wishes through the ballot box.

“Nevertheless, the fact that people did go to vote demonstrates that those who wished to sabotage the process have failed,” he added.

The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations, ENEMO, blamed the police in northern Kosovo, saying they had failed to ensure security in polling stations.

Referring tote six or seven police officers present around the polling centers in the north on Sunday, Zlatko Vujovic, head of the ENEMO observer mission, said their observers had reported their concerns about the intimidation of voters hours before the attack happened.

“We reported this to the police in charge in North Mitrovica, and asked them to intervene, but there was no response,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kosovo and Serbian prime ministers, Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic, are due to meet in Brussels on Wednesday with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, to resolve election issues around the north of Kosovo.

The official results of the local election are due out on Wednesday.

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