Pristina, 21 January 2008 – The hardline nationalist candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, has received the majority of votes among Kosovo’s Serbs in the Serbian presidential election on Sunday.
According to preliminary results, 42.2% of those entitled to vote in Kosovo cast their ballots in Sunday’s first round which Nikolic was contesting with the slogan, “the Serbian president who will preserve Kosovo within Serbia”.
Kosovo’s independence-seeking ethnic Albanians, who account for about 90% of the UN-administered territory’s population, were excluded from the electorate, even though legally Kosovo remains part of Serbia.
The 113,000 voters on the electoral rolls include Kosovo Serbs, and other Serb-speaking communities, such as the Muslim Gorani and Roma, as well as a small number of ethnic Albanians.
Earlier, Kosovo’s UN administration had said it would neither support nor hinder the holding of the Serbian presidential election in Kosovo.
Kosovo’s Albanians ignored the poll which passed off without inter-ethnic incidents, however, there were some irregularities with voters’ lists.
Some voters complained about inaccurate voting lists, which included the names of people no longer alive.
The chief Serbian election official for central Kosovo, Goran Arsic, admitted that voting lists in Kosovo were not up-to-date.
He blamed local authority officials “who were in charge of lists but haven’t done their job as they should; 15 people in one place were banned from voting because they were not on the list”, Arsic said on local Radio KIM in Caglavica, near Pristina.
Mitra Jovanovic, 53, from western Kosovo Serbian enclave Gorazdevac was among many who were unable to cast her ballots: “They didn’t allow me to vote now, just as in last years’ parliamentary elections,” she complained.
Kosovo’s Serb Orthodox bishop, Artemije Radosavljevic, voted in Gracanica, the biggest Serb enclave in the central region, saying with reference to Serb refuges that he was expecting “a faster return to Kosovo of internally displaced persons”.
Although Artemije is known for his hardline nationalist views, his political movement, the Serbian National Council of Kosovo, backed Serbia’s pro-Western President Boris Tadic.
Since 1999, when the UN replaced the Serb administration in Kosovo, these have been the first elections for Serbia’s institutions to be held in the Gora region, inhabited by the Serb-speaking Muslim community of Gorani in the south of Kosovo.
About 10% of some 10,000 registered Gorani voters turn out to vote.