Ethnic Albanian party wins in Kosovo

Kosovo's largest ethnic Albanian party has won general elections in the UN-run province, but failed to gain the absolute majority needed to govern alone.

    President Rugova needs partners to form a coalition government

    According to final results released on Wednesday,

    President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo won 45.42%

    in the 23 October

     elections, which were overshadowed by a boycott by the Serb

    minority.

    The Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by former rebel leader Hashim Thaci,

    came in second with 28.85%.

    It was followed by the party of former

    rebel commander turned politician Ramush Haradinaj, the Alliance for the

    Future of Kosovo, with 8.39%, officials said.

    A new movement run

    by the wealthy Kosovo publisher Veton Surroi finished fourth with 6.23%.

    Rugova's party will now have to form a coalition government, and

    must choose among these three parties for a partner.

    In the previous elections in 2001, a similar result led to a political

    stalemate for three months, with the parties unable to agree to a

    power-sharing deal.

    Serb boycott

    This year's general elections were the second in Kosovo since the end of

    the war in 1999 between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces loyal to the

    former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

    The 120-seat parliament will

    choose a president and a government which holds some power, although the

    ultimate authority on decision-making rests with the UN mission.

    Deep divisions stand in the path
    of building a multi-ethnic society 

    The parties have two days to lodge formal complaints before results are

    certified, said OSCE official Jens Modvig.

    He urged the parties to accept the

    results and quickly form a coalition government.

    Overall turnout was 53.57%, according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which jointly supervised the vote with the province's Central Election Commission.

    The elections were marred by most Serbs' refusal to vote in ethnic

    Albanian-dominated Kosovo, underscoring deep divisions in the province where

    international officials have tried to create a multi-ethnic society.

    Hardline Serb leaders in Kosovo and the rest of Serbia called for

    the

    boycott, citing security concerns after a two-day rampage against Serbs

    earlier this year left 19 people dead and more than 900 injured, while

    thousands fled their homes.

    Kosovo War

    They argued that voting would only create a false picture of a multi-ethnic

    Kosovo and push the province towards independence.

    International officials and analysts have said the Serb decision not to

    vote would deepen their isolation and possibly leave them out of the talks

    expected next year to decide on the province's final status.

    Milosevic is on trail for such mass
    crimes as those seen in Kosovo

    Serbs want Kosovo to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor union

    to Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians want independence.

    Despite the boycott, Serb minority deputies still will be granted 10 seats

    in the assembly regardless of Serb voter turnout, in accordance with Kosovo

    law.

    Kosovo was placed under UN and Nato rule after the 1999 alliance's air

    war that ended Milosevic's brutal crackdown on independence-minded ethnic

    Albanians.

    The 1998-99 war killed an estimated 10,000 people, mainly ethnic

    Albanians.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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