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(Period covering September 2001 to April 2002)

- Joint OSCE / UNHCR document -


Participation in electoral processes

127. The Kosovo Assembly elections took place on 17 November 2001 (with 120 seats available for distribution), with, unlike in 2000, participation from all ethnic communities. OSCE was satisfied that no discrimination took place in the party certification of majority and minority parties alike. [1]

128. The Constitutional Framework provisions guaranteed the representation of the minority communities in the Assembly by reserving 20 seats (“set-asides”) for them: 10 for Serbs; four for Roma, Ashkaeli and Egyptians (without allocating any number of seats to any one group of them); three for Bosniaks; two for Turks; and one for Gorani. In addition, any certified party could also win seats out of the 100 remaining. The formula chosen for translating votes received into seats also gave the smaller ethnic parties the chance to pick up seats additional to those they won in the set-aside group. The certified distribution of the seats in the Assembly for minority community parties was as follows: Kosovo Serbs 22 (including 10 set-asides); Roma, Ashkaeli and Egyptian five (including four set-asides); Bosniaks four (including three set-asides); Turks three (including two set-asides); and Gorani one (set aside). The degree of over-representation for minority communities can be crudely demonstrated: the main Albanian party – LDK, received 359,851 votes (45.65% of the total votes cast) and 47 seats - a ratio of one seat for 7,635 votes. In contrast, the one Turkish party certified (KDTP) received a total of 7,879 votes (1% of total votes) and three seats – a ratio of one seat for 2,626 votes. The Roma, Ashkaeli and Egyptians might have gained one additional seat had they fought as a coalition rather than three separate parties. The result was 13 non-Serb ethnic community representatives in the Assembly. The electoral system therefore fulfilled its aim: a significant representation of minority community parties in an Assembly otherwise dominated by Kosovo Albanian ethnic majority parties.

129. The general problems confronting some ethnic communities, relative to electoral participation, related to security and information. There were very different experiences between communities and sometimes within communities depending on their physical location and political orientation. Kosovo Serbs had fewer informational problems and their relatively low participation inside the province at registration and turn out on Election Day [2] was based mainly on internal issues and intra-community disagreements rather than security concerns. Koalicija Povratak (KP), the only Kosovo Serb party competing in the elections, received a total of 89,388 votes (from voters inside and outside of Kosovo) translated into 22 seats (including 10 set-aides).

130. Minority communities also participated as members of electoral bodies. The Central Election Commission has representatives of the Kosovo Serb, Bosniak and Turkish communities, (but no RAE representative). [3] The Municipal Election Commissions had a reasonable representation of minorities. Equally, members of minorities were present on the polling station committees.

131. Minority parties and NGOs were able to observe the electoral process. OSCE took particular care to ensure that the electoral process and operations inside Kosovo were subject to observation by Kosovo Serb NGOs. No RAE NGOs from Kosovo observed the Assembly elections (which can be attributed both to a lack of experienced personnel as well as in some cases due to fears associated with movement), although three RAE NGOs from Serbia observed the Kosovo elections: “Roma Heart”, “Roma New World” and “Pharaohs”, with 23 observers. NGOs accredited in Serbia proper participated with relative ease. For example, the Belgrade-based CeSID NGO participated with 962 observers. Political entities sent twice as many observers as NGOs. It should be noted that only three of the minority political parties sent domestic observers: PDASHK, IRDK and Koalicija Povratak.

132. There were, overall, few open examples of ethnic discrimination in the electoral process. However, there is evidence that the Bosniak and Gorani parties (Vatan and BSDAK) were reluctant to organise rallies in some villages in the Prizren area (Ljubizda and Skorobishte) because of fear of potential violence from certain Kosovo Albanian groups. On election day in the polling station of Mushnikovo (Prizren municipality), the Kosovo Albanian Polling Station committee refused to issue ballots to Kosovo Serbs coming to vote. Mushnikovo however was an isolated case.

133. Severe problems with freedom of movement for Kosovo Serbs had little impact on the Assembly Election so far as their participation was concerned. OSCE established a Special Needs Voting scheme which allowed persons home-bound by fear both to register and vote thus avoiding need for travel into areas where their security might be at risk. Persons displaced from Kosovo currently residing in Serbia and Montenegro were brought into the electoral process by registration teams and polling centres established there and electors had no problems with movement or security. Lack of freedom of movement was more problematic for the Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptians. The three political parties competing for four set-aside seats had a large potential electorate of IDPs and refugees in Serbia, Montenegro, and FYROM. They only had limited access to this electorate out of Kosovo, and outreach in Serbia proper concentrated on Kosovo Serbs. There has been much complaint from RAE leaders that they were effectively ignored in the pre-election process and this reduced the size of their electorate. As far as potential electorate in Western European countries was concerned, the Vatan (Bosniak and Gorani) coalition complained that registration papers were only available in Albanian.

134. Voter registration is a particular problem for the Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian minorities both in and out of Kosovo. The discrepancy between large numbers of the population and small numbers of the votes shows that many members of the eligible electorate from these communities did not register to vote. In addition to the lack of outreach, another possible reason for their modest engagement with the electoral process is that they have no belief that elections can have a positive impact on their life. This attitude has a deep cultural and historical basis. The RAE community has experience of Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Albanian governance and they widely believe that they have been marginalised by both.

Access to civil and political structures

135. An analysis by municipality indicates the diversity of circumstances encountered by the different communities with regard to the ability of minorities to participate in civil and political structures. With the notable exception of civil employment, which is still a major problem, the different communities in general do have an access to and participate, to greater and lesser extents, in civil and political structures.

Appointment to Municipal Assemblies

136. The appointment system to ensure fair representation in the Municipal Assemblies (MA) of ethnic communities who did not participate in the 2000 elections generally produced positive results and generated opportunities for minority participation in many municipalities. Almost all minority communities gained representation in municipal structures. For example, in the Prishtinë/Pristina Municipal Assembly there are 51 Albanians and 7 Serbs, 2 RAE, 1 Turk and 1 Bosniak. In Prizren there are 38 Albanians and 1 RAE, 4 Turks and 4 Bosniaks/Gorani in the Municipal Assembly. In the Gjilan/Gnjilane Municipal Assembly the proportion is 41 Albanians to 6 Serbs, 1 RAE and 1 Turk. In Pejë/Pec there are 40 Albanians and 1 Serb, 2 RAE and 1 Bosniak. In Mitrovicë/Mitrovica there are 41 Albanians and 1 Bosniak and 1 RAE. In total, in all the 30 Municipal Assemblies in Kosovo, the Albanian members are 863, Serbs are 95, RAE 23, Bosniaks/Gorani 14, Turks 4 and Croats 2.

137. Nevertheless, the basis for these appointments was often unclear, and appeared to vary from municipality to municipality. For example, the Kosovo Turks in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, with a population of 800 were told that they were not large enough to have a representative on the Municipal Assembly. By comparison, the Turks in Gjilan/Gnjilane were granted a Municipal Assembly member, although their share of the population is even smaller. Roma, Ashkaelia and Bosniaks in Gjakovë/Ðakovica also expressed dissatisfaction with the composition of the Municipal Assembly and committees, pointing out that there is not one minority member on the municipal Board of Directors.

138. The situation of Kosovo Serbs and municipalities remains difficult in many areas, with Serbs often expressing deep political opposition to the existence of the municipal organisation in which they are supposedly to participate. Often, where opportunities exist for participation, Kosovo Serbs opt not to participate or engage in municipal structures. In Štrpce/Shtërpcë municipality, the majority Serb leaders oppose participation in UNMIK-established municipal structures, and indeed their opposition to the structures has also impacted on the opportunities for Albanians (in the minority) to participate. The Kosovo Serb community protesting forcefully against the increased presence of Kosovo Albanian municipal officials in the municipal building, since the appearance of Kosovo Albanian municipal employees is perceived as a take over of the municipality. In Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje the appointed Kosovo Serb representatives face rejection from the Serb community which opposes their participation. In Rahovec/Orahovac, restricted freedom of movement makes it almost impossible for Kosovo Serbs to participate in the municipal bodies. In locations where Serbs lack opportunities to participate due to freedom of movement, where they are numerically dominant or where they oppose the existing structures, they have often demanded to have separate and exclusively Kosovo Serb administrative structures. (In some cases this demand has been presented as a pre-condition for Kosovo Serbs to participate in the coming Municipal elections of autumn 2002.) In some instances, participation can be disrupted and improving relations soured due to particular incidents affecting majority-minority dialogue and co-operation in municipal structures. For example, in November 2001, a Kosovo Serb, appointed as a member of the Prishtinë/Priština Municipal Assembly, left Kosovo for Serbia proper, after he was forced to abandon his seat following unsubstantiated allegations of his being a war criminal made against him in the press and by Kosovo Albanian colleagues in the Municipal Assembly. In other areas, participation has produced positive results. For example, in Kamenicë/Kamenica municipality there is a Kosovo Serb vice-president of the Municipal Assembly as well as 11 Serb members and one Roma who have been very active and in good co-operation with their Albanian colleagues.

139. Other ethnic groups face substantially less problems in participating in Municipal Assemblies on the whole, generally encountering a better reception from the majority members, as well as facing much less resistance and internal pressure within their own communities with regard to participation. Examples of good co-operation between majority and minority Municipal Assembly members are in Ferizaj/Uroševac, Lipjan/Lipljan, Shtime/Štimlje and Obiliq/Obilic Municipality respectively, where Ashkaelia representatives regularly and actively participate in Municipal Assembly meetings. The Turkish members of the Municipal Assemblies in Gjilan/Gnjilane and Prishtinë/Priština are also actively working on behalf of their ethnic communities.

Of the other main instruments providing for the inclusion of minority communities in the structures of local self-government, the establishment of a Community Committee and Mediation Committee is legally required by UNMIK regulation 2000/45. [4] There is widespread evidence that even where these Committees have been created, they rarely meet and their effectiveness is extremely low. There is little evidence that they have been or could be effective instruments to resolve interethnic disputes or promote inter-ethnic dialogue. [5] In Gjilan/Gnjilane they meet once per month with no evidence of any output; in Gjakovë/Ðakovica both are established but neither of them have met; in Viti/Vitina Municipality they are still not established. The UNMIK Administrative Direction on Rules of Procedure for the work of both committees is long expected and may offer possibilities to increase their efficiency. UNMIK Office of Community Affairs’ recommendations are to include more Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian members in Community Committees and Mediation Committees in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica region; generally more Bosniaks and Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian participation is also needed in Pejë/Pec and Prizren regions among other areas in Kosovo.


[1] One party from the Kosovo Turkish community was denied certification for the election on the grounds of falsifying supporting signatures required under the relevant Electoral Rule, but other parties from the majority community were not certified on identical grounds.

[2] Despite the overall encouraging participation of the out-of-Kosovo electorate of 57% in Serbia proper and 58% in Montenegro, inside Kosovo the turn out dropped significantly to 47% in non-majority locations. See OSCE report on the Assembly election 2001.

[3] UNMIK Regulation 2000/21, as amended by 2000/65, on the Establishment of the Central Election Commission does not require any distribution of seats to minority communities. It only specifies that the CEC shall have 12 members - three internationals plus nine nationals. The actual method of selection is that the OSCE Head of Mission makes recommendations to the SRSG who then formally appoints all members of the CEC.

[4] According to Regulation 2000/45 on the self-government of Municipalities in Kosovo, the Communities Committees shall promote the rights and interests of the communities living in the municipality. To date, 22 Communities Committees were established. The Mediation Committees examine all matters referred to them by the Communities Committees. It carries out investigation as necessary to establish whether the rights of a community or a member of a community have been or would be violated or whether action, which is or would be prejudicial to the interests of a community has been taken or proposed. Similar to the Communities Committees, they are not established in all municipalities. To date, 25 Mediation Committees have been formally set up.

[5] An exceptional example, that of the Lipjan/Lipljan Mediation Committee and its work to promote dialogue and co-existence between Albanian and Ashkaelia communities, is discussed in the return chapter of this report.



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