UNMIK: Serb boycott creates new problems

PRIŠTINA -- UNMIK states that it is dealing with the problems and consequences of the Serb boycott of the Kosovo elections.

Since Serbs did not participate, Albanian candidates won in several communities where Serbs make up the majority. It means that the Serbs have theoretically lost control of all five municipalities they had until now: Novo Brdo, Štrpce, Zubin Potok, Leposavić and Zvečan.

As soon as the Serb boycott was announced, UNMIK and other diplomats in Priština were forced to think of solutions for the majority Serb populations in these areas.

Internal debates within the international administration, that later included local officials, led to the conclusion that automatic implementation of Election Law in these municipalities would result in the dissolution of local parliaments with Serb majorities, leaving most of the power in the hands of Kosovo Albanians.

Strict implementation of local laws would open up new conflicts between the two communities, especially in the volatile north, where it could potentially ignite new conflicts.

UNMIK spokesperson Alexander Ivanko did not have an answer as far as a solution was concerned when the matter was raised by reporters at a press conference.

“We still have time to talk about a solution that could function,“ Ivanko said.

Based on UNMIK Chief Joachim Ruecker’s earlier decisions, the former parliaments will remain functional in all of these municipalities until the official election results arrive.

The official results are expected on December 4-5, by which time Ruecker is expected to have made a decision on the issue.

The situation is very complicated and finding a solution that will be acceptable to both sides will be just as difficult. Two options remain for Ruecker: either implement the new assemblies with an Albanian majority or extend the mandate of the Serb assemblies with majority Serb representation.