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Kosovo - Politics

National unity has unraveled since the country declared independence in 2008. Kosovo's present conditions are bleak: Ethnic disputes remain unresolved, crimes committed during the 1990s war remain unprosecuted, and there are serious corruption, extreme poverty and mass emigration to deal with.

After indepedence, Serb hardliners employed violence and intimidation against domestic opponents and international security forces, resulting in deaths and injuries. Roadblocks that Serb hardliners established in the northern part of the country seriously restricted basic rights, including freedom of movement and movement of goods. Ethnic minorities, which included Serb, Romani, Ashkali, Egyptian, Turkish, Bosniak, Gorani, Croat, and Montenegrin communities, faced varied levels of institutional and societal discrimination, in areas such as employment, education, social services, language use, freedom of movement, IDPs right to return, and other basic rights. Members of the Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities were subject to pervasive social and economic discrimination; often lacked access to basic hygiene, medical care, and education; and were heavily dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.

Dr Ibrahim Rugova was the first elected president of the Republic of Kosovo. Dr. Ibrahim Rugova was elected President of the Republic of Kosovo in the first multi-party elections for the Assembly of Kosovo, held on 24 May 1992. Following that, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, was reelected the President of the Republic of Kosovo in the elections held in March 1998. Ridiculed by young Albanians for his opposition to the 1998 insurrection against Serbian rule, Mr. Rugova staged an electoral comeback to twice defeat political parties linked to the Kosovo Liberation Army, the militant group that took up arms against Serbia, and later entered the political fray. The Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova also won the majority of votes in the first local elections in Kosovo in October 2000, in the first national elections in 2001, and he was re-elected President in the second local elections in 2002 and in the national elections in 2004.

Kosovo under UNMIK administration held its first parliamentary elections in November 2001. After significant political wrangling, politicians agreed to establish a coalition government in March 2002, with Bajram Rexhepi (PDK) as Prime Minister and Ibrahim Rugova (LDK) as President. In the same year, the Kosovo Assembly began to function and pass its first laws. Beginning in 2003, UNMIK began transferring governing competencies to these ministries.

In the 2009 and 2010 elections, election fraud was grave, widespread, and visible. To prevent it, Kosovos elite pledged to their own citizens and to the international community that they would reform the inadequate electoral law and vet the bloated voters list. Yet nothing was done. In the 2014 election fraud was less prevalent, apparently, and certainly less visible.

Kosovo held extra-ordinary elections on 11 June 2017 to fill the 120 seats in the Assembly of Kosovo. While the next parliamentary election was scheduled for mid-2018, the Assembly adopted a no-confidence vote in the government of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on May 10, 2017, triggering an early election. Snap elections were mandated to take place within 30 to 45 days of the Assemblys dissolution. After consultations with the various political parties, President Hashim Thai announced that the elections would take place on June 11.

The special court established under EU pressure to adjudicate war crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was poised to issue indictments, which were widely expected to target former guerrilla leaders who had become prominent politicians. This court is by its very nature exposed to the influence of western powers. It was assumed that suspects were less likely to be indicted if they were part of the governing majority. The risk of being indicted was one important factor why the leaders and political parties with origins in the KLA called the snap elections and set their well-known rivalries to form a joint electoral list, which from the start was the clear favorite.

The nationalist Self-Determination Movement was neck-and-neck with the coalition led by former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, which had around 26 percent each after the counting of about 70 percent of the votes, according to Democracy in Action, a monitoring group. No group can govern alone and coalitions will be likely.

A coalition led by former PM Ramush Haradinaj won the election with around 35% of the vote, while the left-wing opposition party Vetevendosje and the coalition associated with outgoing Prime Minister Isa Mustafa each held around 25%. The backdrop to the election was an ongoing adjudication over war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Many politicians with a background in the KLA were keen to secure a government position to protect themselves from charges.

The new Cabinet faced a tough job in resolving several thorny issues, including the border demarcation deal with Montenegro. The approval of another agreement with Serbia giving more rights to the ethnic Serb minority, and the continuation of fraught talks with Belgrade, which denies Kosovo's existence as a state, were also key concerns.

Ethnic Serbs and other minorities have 20 out of 120 seats in the parliament. Self-Determination Movement officials celebrated the results, which saw the party double its share of the vote. The party has been a disruptive force in the previous parliament and is the biggest opposition party to shun pre-election coalitions. The party's members and supporters released tear gas inside parliament and threw firebombs outside it to protest the contentious deals with Montenegro and Serbia.

For the extraordinary "snap" elections held on 11 June 2017, several parties joined forces to create the PDK-AAK-Nisma (PAN) Coalition, which won about 35 percent of the vote, narrowly beating out Vetevendosje, which ran as a single party outside of any coalition, and the incumbent LDK Coalition, led by former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa. Creation of the new government was delayed due to a lack of consensus or clear majority; after over two months of negotiations and six failed constitutive sessions, the government was only formed in early September 2017.

President of Kosovo Hashim Thai scheduled the date 22 October 2017 for the holding of the local elections, President's Office stated. Thai instructed the Central Election Commission to undertake all the necessary actions for the organization and holding of the local elections, in accordance with his decision and the legislation in force.

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