Kosovo sets vote on ousting mayors in Serb-majority cities

Kosovo sets vote on ousting mayors in Serb-majority cities
Kosovo sets vote on ousting mayors in Serb-majority cities

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Animosity between Kosovo and Serbia has persisted since a war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents in the late 1990s that drew Nato intervention against Belgrade. — AFP pic

PRISTINA (Kosovo), March 10 — A referendum on whether to remove the mayors of Northern Kosovo municipalities will be held on April 21, Kosovo’s Central Electoral Commission announced.

The election of ethnic-Albanian mayors in the four Serb-majority municipalities in Northern Kosovo followed the boycott by local ethnic Serbs last year and sparked tensions both locally and between Belgrade and Pristina.

The decision of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announced on Friday came after verification of the signatures on the petitions sent in January from the municipalities of Zvecan, North Mitrovica, Leposavic and Zubin Potok.

“After presenting the report, with eight votes in favor and two abstentions the recommendation of the CEC secretariat was adopted that April 21 is set for voting against or in favour of dismissal of the mayors,” the CEC said in a press release.

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According to the commission, the condition of at least 20 percent of eligible voters endorsing the petition was fulfilled with around a quarter of the 45,000 registered voters having signed.

The decision was welcomed by the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), while European parliament representatives calling it a step towards “de-escalation”.

“Important now for the process to be conducted fairly, inclusively and transparently,” head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, Michael Davenport, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

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The petition and the referendum were the only lawful way of repeating local elections in the Serb-majority municipalities, and one of the conditions for easing the tensions.

Animosity between Kosovo and Serbia has persisted since a war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents in the late 1990s that drew Nato intervention against Belgrade.

Both sides have been pressured by western powers to negotiate normalisation of their relations, with the European Union making it a pre-condition for both countries to join the bloc. — AFP

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