Kosovo opposition wins snap vote for new parliament
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Two Kosovo opposition parties emerged as the top-vote getters in Sunday's snap election of a new parliament held amid calls for leaders to resume dialogue with Serbia over normalizing ties.
With 76% of the votes counted by the central Election Commission, the main governing election body, the left-wing Self-Determination Movement Party, or LVV, had 26% of the votes. It was just ahead of the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, with 25%.
Self-Determination supporters took to the streets to celebrate. Kadri Veseli of the former governing conservative Democratic Party of Kosovo conceded defeat. His party won 21%, followed by its governing ally, the Alliance for Kosovo's Future of outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj with 12%.
The snap vote came after Haradinaj resigned in July following a request from a Hague-based court to question him over crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country's 1998-99 war. The conflict was ended by a NATO military intervention against then-Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's bloody crackdown on Albanian independence fighters' insurrection.
Voters were electing 120 lawmakers in the Balkan nation, which became independent from Serbia in 2008, recognized by more than 100 countries but not by Belgrade. The preliminary turnout was around 44%, a bit higher than the 2017 election. About 1.9 million people were eligible to vote.
The party that ends up with the biggest share of vote will have to form a coalition for a new Cabinet. Albin Kurti is the nominee for prime minister from the LVV, whose members have used extreme methods such as tear gas and water bottles in the parliament against deals with Serbia.
The European Union has been sponsoring now stalled talks between Kosovo and Serbia aimed at normalizing their relations. The talks stalled last year after Haradinaj set a 100% tariff on Serb goods. In Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, the Belgrade-backed Serb List party won most of the 10 guaranteed parliament seats. Ten other seats go to other minorities.
The prosecutor's office reported minor incidents, including photographing of votes and allowing ethnic Serb voters to use Serbian documents for identification in the Serb-dominated northern Mitrovica area.
The EU election monitoring mission will give a preliminary statement on Tuesday.
Associated Press writer Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.