According to the preliminary list of the Kosovo Central Election Commission, 1,927,466 citizens registered to vote in the upcoming extraordinary parliamentary elections scheduled for October 6 – the CEC spokesperson, Valmir Elezi told Pristina-based Gazeta Express. However, Kosovo only had 1,795,666 million residents in 2018, according to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics. This substantial difference between the number of registered voters and the estimated population has been greatly discussed in the Kosovo public. The Kosovo Serb community and other non-majority communities, however, are more concerned over the CEC’s new decision to formally – and for the first time – ban the use of Serbian ID cards during voter verification on election day. Only citizens with documents issued by Kosovo authorities will be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.
The ban on the use of Serbian ID cards in Kosovo elections has been greatly discussed during the last two elections. Furthermore, during the mayoral elections held in the northern municipalities in May, CEC President Valdete Daka announced that voting with these documents would not be allowed.
The largest Kosovo Serb party, Srpska Lista criticized the CEC’s decision to explicitly ban the use of Serbian documents this year.
“The law clearly states that all citizens who registered to vote can do so with a valid ID card. In this way, they want to decrease the number of Serbs planning to go to the polls,“ outgoing Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Srpska Lista official, Dalibor Jevtic told Most TV.
Jevtic then claimed that this decision was initiated by the Independent Liberal Party.
„Those who are afraid of electoral loss, those who work in the interest of those who support such initiatives, are only showing once again that their personal interests are more important than the interests of the Serb people in Kosovo. Above all, it is in our interest that as many of our compatriots as possible go to the polls on October 6 and support what we are seeking – which is unity,“ he stressed.
The leader of the Independent Liberal Party, Slobodan Petrovic was not available for comment prior to the news been published.
Montenegrins are also against this decision
The Association of Montenegrins of Kosovo also believes that CEC’s decision is „unlawful“.
“Depriving the citizens who are on the electoral roll of their right to vote is the gravest violation of human rights and the electoral law of Kosovo, namely Article 90 of the Law on Elections and Article 16 of Election Code 09/2013. This discriminatory act has affected 20,000 Montenegrins living in the north of Kosovo and those who are displaced,“ the president of the association, Slobodan Vujicic said.
This association urged the relevant stakeholders in Kosovo to influence the CEC to „stop undermining the legitimacy of the elections and taking the side of those groups that are against a compromise solution between Belgrade and Pristina.“
The law is imprecise
Article 9 of the Kosovo Law on General Elections states that a voter on the electoral roll is obliged to identify himself in front of the Municipal Election Commission by any of the following documents: a valid ID card, valid travel document, valid passport or valid driver’s license. It also adds that a person registered to vote outside Kosovo must attach a valid ID photo and a certificate of registration outside Kosovo.
However, the law does not specify which documents are considered valid and the status of Serbian documents before the Kosovo authorities is very ambivalent.
On the one hand, Serbian documents with residences in Kosovo cities cannot be used as valid travel and identification documents within Kosovo, nor can these documents be used to enter into workforce in Kosovo institutions. On the other hand, they are recognized as valid identification documents at border crossings with central Serbia, but not with Macedonia, Montenegro or Albania. In addition, Serbian driver’s licenses and ID cards must be enclosed before registering with the Kosovo Civil Registry and when applying for a Kosovo driver’s license.
Vucic and Rakic criticized persons who have Kosovo documents
Possessing ID cards issued by Kosovo authorities is a must for most Kosovo Serbs who have to use the services of Kosovo institutions or banks – including Serbian politicians within Kosovo institutions. However, this did not prevent the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic nor the Srpska Lista chief, Goran Rakic, from criticizing the persons who have these documents, although Rakic himself would not be able to run for mayor without a Kosovo ID.
Vucic, Rakic and Serb tabloids also criticized Bishop of Raska-Prizren, Teodosije and the Serbian National Forum’s most prominent member, Momcilo Trajkovic for having Kosovo ID cards.
„I am being attacked by those who already have Albanian ID cards, some other people would use another term to say this. I don’t have one (Albanian ID) – I only have citizenship of the Republic of Serbia,” the Serbian President boasted last August.
„All those who are writing open letters have Kosovo and Serbian ID cards,“ Goran Rakic also said in the same period.
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