Kosovo PM's party leads in the vote

Party of Hashim Thaci holds on most seats in parliament but fails to take majority amid allegations of ballot stuffing.

    There were claims that voting was compromised in two of Kosovo's 37 districts [AFP]

    The party of Kosovo's prime minister has made the strongest showing in Sunday's general election with almost all votes counted, winning 33.5 per cent of the votes, giving it an edge in pursuing a four-year mandate.

    Monday's results, however, showed that while Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) would remain the largest group in the 120-seat parliament, it would have to seek coalition partners to govern.

    Its main rival the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), a former coalition ally of the PDK, took second place with 23.6 per cent, on a turnout of 47.8 per cent of the 1.6 million eligible voters, the election commission said.

    Sunday's election was the territory's first since its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.

    'Serious fraud'

    Meanwhile an EU Parliament member and election observer urged authorities to take measures against election officials suspected of rigging the vote in at least two of Kosovo's 37 municipalities, where turnout was noticeably higher than the national average.

    Doris Pack said observers were alerted to possible "serious fraud" in two of Thaci's regional strongholds, where over 90 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in favour of his Democratic Party of Kosovo.

    She said the high turnout was suspicious and reminiscent of voting patterns in authoritarian countries.

    A US Embassy statement also said US Ambassador Chris Dell noted possible fraud at a polling station in central Kosovo - known for strong backing of Thaci's PDK - where "ballots in the box exceeded the number of signatures in the voters' book".

    On Monday, Valdete Daka, the head of the Central Election Commission, said that "if there were irregularities we will have to wait for the election authority on complaints to decide what they were".

    'Serious irregularities'

    The United States on Monday urged authorities to address fraud accusations.

    "The United States urges the Kosovo elections commission to address the few serious irregularities that did occur," Mark Toner, the state department spokesman, said.

    He also regretted "the atmosphere of threats, intimidation and violence from Serbian sources directed for weeks against Kosovo Serbs in northern Kosovo clearly prevented many there from exercising their democratic rights."

    But he added Sunday's polls were largely "efficient and effective".

    "Overall, however, we congratulate Kosovo - Kosovo's electoral authorities for the organisation of these snap elections under serious time constraints."

    Kosovo, a former Serbian province, faced political gridlock Monday as both main parties claimed victory while awaiting official results.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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