Election commission hears about OSCE's Kosovo requirements

BELGRADE -- The Ministry for Kosovo told the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) that the OSCE had set out a number of requirements for holding elections in Kosovo.

Advisor to the minister for Kosovo and Metohija Vlada Jovičić said that the commission and the OSCE had agreed in principle on the OSCE assisting RIK in conducting the elections in the province, but the OSCE requirements that were “bordering on legality.”

The OSCE recommends that for security reasons, the votes should be counted outside Kosovo and Metohija, the electoral commissions should only have a chairperson and two more members and the polls should be held at a total of 19 stations with between 70 and 100 polling booths, while in the mostly Serb-populated north, a few more polling stations should be opened.

One of the OSCE requirements is that Serbia's national symbols only be placed inside the polling stations.

The OSCE accepts that all the other electoral activities be held under the Serbian regulations, Jovičić said, adding that the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija would ask the Serbian government for its opinion on the matter.

He added that UNMIK, who had been asked to assist in the election organization first, had “dropped the matter in the lap” of the OSCE.

The RIK session lasted more than two hours and will be continued when the Serbian government delivers its opinion about whether conduction elections in Kosovo and Metohija is safe, after which RIK will decide about future steps to be made.

RIK Secretary Veljko Odalović said that the regularity of the electoral activities that the commission had been conducting in the entire Serbian territory had never been challenged before.

He said that RIK had asked the Serbian government to enable holding elections in Kosovo and Metohija in 2008.

RIK members from the ranks of the Serb Radical Party (SRS), the Serb Progressive Party (SNS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) said that the requirements were “absolutely unacceptable” and against the Serbian laws, pointing to the fact that Kosovo was part of Serbia, which meant that the elections could only by held in line with Serbia's regulations.

They also said that the discussion had come a little late, as the elections were only about ten days away.