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Polls open in mayoral run-off election

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-13

Kosovans are going to the polls this Sunday in runoffs to select mayors as the nation completes its first election since unilaterally declaring independence from Serbia last year.

AFP - Voters in many towns across Kosovo were casting ballots Sunday in runoffs to select mayors as the nation completes its first election since unilaterally declaring independence from Serbia last year.

The second round vote for mayors was organised in 21 out of 36 towns and municipalities where candidates failed to win a 50 percent majority at the November 15 polls.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) and were due to close at 7:00 pm. The first unofficial results are expected during the next week.

Almost one million people are eligible to vote in the runoff as the two main and governing parties, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) of President Fatmir Sejdiu compete to win a majority.

The PDK, which won in five towns in the first round, has candidates running in 16 towns, while its junior coalition party, the LDK, which won two towns, including the capital Pristina, is runing in 12 towns.

The polls for municipal councils and mayors in the first round attracted around 45 percent of 1.5 million eligible voters as Kosovo sought to show it could organise free, fair and peaceful elections after it unilaterally declared independence in February 2008, despite strong opposition from Serbia.

The independence of Kosovo, whose 90 percent population are ethnic Albanians, is recognised by 63 countries, including the United States and other major western powers.

Belgrade had called on Serbs to boycott the polls, but some cast ballots in parts of Kosovo, winning mayoral posts in three municipalities in central Kosovo, where they make up the majority of population.

Election authorities said that Kosovo police have stepped up security for the voting.

"The (runoff) elections are secured by around 4,000 police officers," the election commission said Saturday in a press release.

The polls were set to be monitored by hundreds of local and international observers.

Observers of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), which deployed more than 100 people throughout Kosovo during the first round vote, said they had met "many" international standards.
 

Date created : 2009-12-13

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