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Kosovo Assembly Election - 2007-11-17

International and domestic observers determined that the 17 November 2007 Kosovo Assembly elections generally reflected the will of the voters, although few Kosovo Serbs participated, largely due to Serbian government pressure to boycott. No significant irregularities were reported. Kosovo has a multiparty system dominated by four Kosovo Albanian parties with several minority parties and coalitions.

Kosovo has a population of approximately 2.2 million and is administered by the UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) pursuant to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1244 of 1999. UNMIK is led by a special representative of the UN secretary general in Kosovo (SRSG). UNMIK promulgated regulations that addressed the civil and legal responsibilities of governmental entities and private individuals and ratified laws passed by the Kosovo Assembly. The UNMIK-promulgated Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self Government in Kosovo defines the provisional institutions of self-government (PISG).

According to the UNHCR, 207,000 persons from Kosovo remained displaced in Serbia and 16,500 in Montenegro as a consequence of the 1998-99 conflict. Of the 4,100 persons displaced by riots in 2004, some 1,200 remained IDPs. There were 20,310 persons displaced within Kosovo, half of whom were Kosovo Albanians. The police continued to assess the security situation as stable but fragile. No freedom of movement related crimes were reported to police. Nevertheless, members of all ethnic communities continued to remain largely within or travel between areas where their group comprised the majority. Rock-throwing and other forms of intimidation continued to affect Kosovo Serbs when traveling outside Serb majority areas.

To reduce the risk of attack by making Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Albanian vehicles indistinguishable, UNMIK continued to offer Kosovo license plates at no fee to Kosovo Serbs who had already registered their vehicles in Serbia. However, Kosovo Serbs were reluctant to use the UNMIK-issued plates because doing so limited their ability to travel to Serbia, which does not recognize the UNMIK plates.

The Kosovo Property Agency (KPA) was created in March 2006 under the PISG as the successor to the UNMIK Housing and Property Directorate. While the directorate handled only claims to residential properties, the new agency is responsible for the resolution of residential, commercial, and agricultural property claims from the Kosovo conflict. By September 2007 the agency had received 27,064 claims: 24,064 for agricultural property, 844 for commercial property, and 1,808 for residential property. Kosovo Serbs in the northern part of Mitrovica continued to occupy Kosovo Albanian properties, while Kosovo Albanians in the southern part occupied and denied Kosovo Serbs access to their property.

During the year 2007 the UNMIK Office of Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF) continued to identify the remains of missing persons in Kosovo. Since 2002 the office performed 571 field operations and exhumations, 66 of which took place during the year. The remains of over 3,800 missing persons were recovered and OMPF focused on establishing the identities of 1,500 sets of human remains discovered in Kosovo since 1999, along with the identities of approximately 900 sets received from Serbia since 2002.

During a 10 February 2007 demonstration by the Self-Determination Movement in which protestors turned violent, UNMIK security forces killed two civilians with rubber bullets and seriously wounded two others. Subsequent to this incident, UNMIK Police Commissioner Steven Curtis and Minister of Interior Fatmir Rexhepi resigned from their posts. In July, after a preliminary investigation, UNMIK Department of Justice concluded that the loss of life was unjustified and that the facts gave reasonable suspicion of criminal acts among the security personnel who had fired the rubber bullets. As a result UNMIK banned the use of rubber bullets by its security forces.

Multiparty elections in November for the Kosovo Assembly generally reflected the will of the voters. On November 17, 2007, Kosovo held parliamentary and municipal elections. These elections were deemed free and fair by international observers. The PDK won 34.3% of the vote, the LDK won 22.6%, the New Kosovo Alliance won 12.3%, the Democratic League of Dardania won 10%, and the AAK won 9.6%. Smaller minority parties also made some small gains. These elections led to a coalition between the LDK and the PDK and to the nomination of Hashim Thaci as Prime Minister of Kosovo. Under pressure from Belgrade, most Kosovo Serbs boycotted the vote.

President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci, two men of very different backgrounds and political sentiment, chose to make common cause at a critical time for Kosovo. The two formed a coalition government just prior to independence, which came on 17 February 2008, an arrangement that held steady for a time despite historical animosities and considerable mistrust between their two parties.

In June 2008, UN Secretary General Ban decided to "reconfigure" UNMIK and reduce the size of the UN presence in Kosovo, effectively ending the UN's role as administrator of Kosovo and welcoming EU deployment of its rule of law mission (EULEX). As Ban stated in his report to the Security Council, "UNMIK will no longer be able to perform effectively the vast majority of its tasks as an international administration." The EU assumed responsibilities in the areas of policing, justice, and customs throughout Kosovo.

Kosovo administered its first elections since independence on November 15, 2009. These local elections were held in 36 municipalities, including one expanded and three new Serb-majority municipalities established under the decentralization process of the Ahtisaari plan. International observers from the EU, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the ICO agreed the elections were conducted largely in accordance with international standards and that the irregularities that took place were insufficient to affect the outcome of the poll. Voter turnout was the highest since 2002, including in majority ethnic-Serb communities south of the River Ibar. However, voter participation in northern Kosovo was extremely low, with Kosovo Serb communities boycotting the elections. For the first time, Kosovo authorities in the Central Election Commission certified the election results, rather than the pre-independence practice whereby UNMIK certified results.





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