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Kosovars will go to polls in November, UN envoy says

31 August 2007 The senior United Nations envoy to Kosovo announced today that municipal, assembly and mayoral elections will be held on 17 November in the Serbian province administered by the United Nations since 1999.

However, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative in Kosovo Joachim Rücker stressed that the future status of Kosovo takes precedence.

“It is crucial that democracy runs its course, notwithstanding the paramount importance of concluding the status problem,” he said, following his meeting with the Team of Unity, a group of representatives of Kosovo Albanian institutions and all major political parties.

“I wish to make it clear that the Team of Unity and I are in complete agreement that the status process has absolutely priority,” he said. “I reserve the right to postpone the elections date should there be a conflict – in particular, should the holding of the elections be used as an excuse to delay status.”

The Security Council has been deadlocked over a proposal by Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari for a phased process of independence for the province. Earlier this month, the Secretary-General welcomed an agreement to have a troika comprising the European Union, Russian Federation and United States lead further negotiations on Kosovo’s future status.

Kosovars will cast ballots in November for Assembly Members and Municipal Assembly Members and, for the first time, will also directly elect a mayor for each of the 30 municipalities of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by nine to one.

The electoral system has been changed, with the upcoming polls introducing an open list for seats, according to an UNMIK press release issued in Pristina. Voters will elect both a political entity and up to 10 individuals within the same entity’s candidate list.

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