Kosovo votes in municipal elections, focus on the race in Pristina

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – Kosovo holds municipal elections on Sunday in which the left-wing party in power for eight months aims to take over the town hall in the capital, Pristina.

About 1.9 million voters vote to elect the mayors of 38 municipalities and some 1,000 elected municipal officials. Preliminary results are expected by midnight. During the previous polls, many municipalities have carried out runoffs, which take place in a month.

The main competition will be the mayoralty of Pristina for which the ruling Left Party for Self-Determination, or Vetevendosje !, has appointed its former Minister of Health, Arben Vitia.

Voting in the north populated mainly by the ethnic Serbian minority will attract a lot of attention following two incidents in the past two months which have led to escalating tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.

Earlier this week, Kosovo police clashed with ethnic Serbs in an anti-smuggling operation, and last month an issue with vehicle license plates was only resolved. ‘after mediation by the European Union and the United States. The NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, has deployed troops to the border area, ending the feud.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize this decision.

Elections are being held during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a difficult test for the population and the authorities. Those responsible for the electoral process must have received at least one injection of the vaccine, while voters must wear masks. Election teams transport the ballot boxes to the homes of people who are currently HIV positive.

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