Serbian List Says It's Ready To Participate In New Elections In Northern Kosovo

Serbian List's chairman, Goran Rakic (file photo)

Oct 13, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


The chairman of Kosovo's main ethnic-Serb party, Serbian List, says it is ready to take part in new municipal elections in northern Kosovo.

Goran Rakic told a press conference in North Mitrovica on October 13 that Serbian List, which has Belgrade’s support, made the decision in cooperation with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

"The ball has now been moved to Pristina's court," Rakic said, adding that he expects new elections to be called in northern Kosovo municipalities as soon as possible.

Rakic in June said the conditions for Serbian List's participation in the elections included the formation of an Association of Serbian Municipalities, the withdrawal of Kosovo's special units, and an amnesty for all arrested Serbs who participated in barricades or protests.

He did not repeat the conditions on October 13, but said the announcement on Serbian List's willingness to take part in elections was meant to "stimulate the political process and dialogue that would contribute to the fulfillment of our conditions, which we have emphasized several times so far."

The four Serb-majority municipalities in the north -- North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and Leposavic -- are currently led by ethnic Albanian mayors who took office after elections in April that were boycotted by local ethnic Serbs.

Kosovo, after facing punitive measures from the European Union, pledged to reorganize elections, but said it would do so only via an administrative instruction that enables the citizens of a municipality to dismiss their mayors through a petition signed by at least 20 percent of voters. If all the required administrative steps are met, then a vote can be held on the departure of the mayors and new elections announced.

Government spokesman Perparim Kryeziu told RFE/RL that Kosovo has provided the legal framework to enable new elections in the four municipalities, saying Kosovo believes new elections "should be driven by the democratic and resourceful will of the citizens."

The administrative instruction is the result of the government’s commitments to de-escalate the situation and said it supports new elections, Kryeziu said.

"We consider it extremely important that the next election campaign be open and fair, and that the elections be free and democratic. The participation of Kosovo Serb citizens is crucial," Kryeziu said.

Elbert Krasniqi, Kosovo's minister of local government management, said last month that the resignation of the mayors "is a request only of Belgrade," insisting that mayors can only leave their offices through the administrative instruction.

Since then, the situation has only become more tense. An attack on Kosovo police on September 24 by a group of armed Serbs in the village of Banjska left four dead -- a local police sergeant and three of the attackers.

The deputy head of Serbian List, Milan Radoicic, has admitted to organizing and taking part in the incident at the Banjska monastery. Kosovar police had shown images of him heavily armed among the assailants along with identity documents from the scene. He is thought to be in Serbia.

Kryeziu said the "paramilitary attack...has reminded us once again of the vital importance of reviving the political pluralism of the Serbs in Kosovo."

After the attack, Kosovo accused Serbia of trying to "annex the whole of northern Kosovo," which Serbia has denied.

Vucic on October 12 called on representatives of Serbs in northern Kosovo to initiate new elections in the four municipalities.