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Record low turnout under 45 percent in Kosovo election


Source: | 11-18-2007 08:17

An ethnic Albanian woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Pristina during Kosovo's parliamentary election November 17, 2007. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

The province of Kosovo has voted for a new parliament with a mandate to declare independence from Serbia. Saturday's election was marred by low turnout and a Serb boycott to protest ethnic Albanian independence plans.

Unofficial figures by a coalition of observer groups are giving former rebel leader Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo 35 per cent of the vote.

Less than half the electorate turned out to vote, the lowest showing since the 1998-99 war. The election commission said turnout was likely to be "between 40 and 45 percent".

Many of Kosovo's Serbs boycotted the vote as they have in previous elections, obeying calls from Serbia's leadership.

The UN special envoy to Kosovo was very displeased by the low voter turnout.

Stephen Schook, UN Deputy Special Representative in Kosovo, said, "I am disappointed. I'm disappointed for many reasons. Look, I happen to value very, very highly the opportunity to vote, and I don't agree with some of the rhetoric which came out from both Belgrade, and some of the leadership here in North Ibar. I think any time that you give up an opportunity to vote you are giving up a piece of yourself, you are giving up an opportunity to put people in place to be the leadership that you choose to lead you.

Hashim Thaci has said he would declare independence from Serbia after December 10 if he wins the election.

That date is when international mediators must report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on efforts to resolve the dispute over Kosovo's future status.

The two sides have still not made any headway on reaching a deal. Two negotiating sessions are planned in Brussels and Vienna in the coming week.


Editor:Du Xiaodan