Kosovo Holds First Elections Since Independence
By SOF Editor on Mon, 11/16/2009 - 12:18pm
Kosovo is holding elections Sunday for the first time since its ethnic Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
More than 1.5 million people are eligible to cast ballots for mayors and council members in 36 municipalities, including the capital, Pristina.
Hours after the polls opened, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci urged minority Serbs not to boycott the vote as called for by authorities in Belgrade and by Serbia's influential Orthodox Church.
Western journalists say some Serbs appeared at polling stations in central Kosovo by mid-day, as authorities placed the overall turnout at about 15 percent.
There were no reports of violence during the voting.
The former Serbian province of Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, despite strong opposition from Serbia and Russia. Sixty three countries, including the United States, have since recognized Kosovo's sovereignty.
Seventy four political parties and citizens' groups are taking part in the polls, including some Serb candidates.
Preliminary results are expected later Sunday, shortly after polls close at 1800 UTC (1 p.m. EST).
Prior to independence, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe coordinated Kosovo elections after the end of the Kosovo conflict in 1999.