World Media

Kosovo election: Opposition parties claim win

Albin Kurti candidate for prime minister and leader of Vetevendosje

Two opposition parties, the leftist-nationalist Self-Determination and the centre-right Democratic League for Kosovo, would have a respective tally of 26 and 25 percent of the votes in Kosovo's parliamentary elections of Sunday, Deutsche Welle reports.

Polling stations opened at 07:00 local time and at 15:00 had not yet reached 30 percent of the electoral roll of one million 900 thousand citizens entitled to vote, reported the Central Election Commission (CEC).

While Vetevendosje and LDK have little overlap ideologically, they have already discussed the possibility of joining forces.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the largest party in the outgoing coalition, came in third with 21% of the votes, and a list led by Haradinaj got 11.5%, preliminary results showed.

The snap vote came after Haradinaj resigned in July following a request from a Hague-based global tribunal to question him over crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the war.

With no clear front runner, the outcome of the vote is the most unpredictable in the country's short history.

"In essence when people voted for him they mainly thought he is the person to fight crime and corruption, bring jobs and improve the economy", Agron Bajrami, editor in chief of the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore, told Reuters.

Based on opinion polls, public dissatisfaction with Haradinaj's record in the mind of a three-party governing coalition has fostered support for opposition parties.

Last November, he imposed a 100% tariff on imports from Serbia in retaliation for Belgrade blocking Kosovo's membership of worldwide organisations. Most, but not all, of the parties contesting the polls have said that they will abolish the tariffs but will introduce other retaliatory measures against Serbia.

Vetevendosje leader, Albin Kurti, called on his supporters to celebrate in capital Pristina and pledged that he will fulfil all the promises during election campaign.

Serbia and its allies Russian Federation and China refuse to recognize the split, effectively barring Kosovo from the United Nations.

The United States and the European Union see tensions between Belgrade and Pristina as a major threat to regional stability and are pushing for a normalization of relations.

"It is clear that the future government will focus nearly its entire energy on the dialogue with Serbia and very little on the issues discussed with the citizens during this election campaign", he said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has been urging Kosovo Serbs to vote for the party, leading critics to decry an atmosphere of intimidation.

On Thursday US President Donald Trump appointed the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, as special envoy for peace negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Previously regarded as too extreme in his political views to be a part of a government, Kurti recently moderated his position on unification with Albania and expressed the willingness to cooperate with Serbia and Serb minority population if he wins the election, as well as the new High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell.