Kosovo Fully Prepared For Elections

Preparations for parliamentary elections in Kosovo planned for Saturday are complete as OSCE, KFOR and civilian UN mission in Kosovo pledge providing for all conditions "for expressing citizens' democratic will" and "free access to election lots for everybody." Almost 1.2 million of Kosovo inhabitants are in the electors' lists, including 178 thousand ethnic Serbs. OSCE, the organization in charge of preparing for the elections, reports that all lists of candidates are confirmed. 1,300 candidates from 19 political parties, two coalitions and two public initiatives, as well as three independent candidates, will strive for 120 places in the future Parliament. 1,668 election lots, 177 of which are situated in Serbia and 19 in Montenegro, opened at 7:00 a.m., local time, to be closed at 7:00 p.m. The counting centre will open immediately after the lots are closed. KFOR will organize transportation while international police will provide escorts for all election materials. Ballots from Serbia and Montenegro where Serb refugees from Kosovo are supposed to vote will also be transported to counting centre by OSCE transportation means. Central election commission will be supervised by head of the OSCE office in Kosovo Daan Everts; the commission also features three representatives of international organizations and nine local officials, including one ethnic Serb. The procedure of voting will be under control of 13 thousand local and foreign observers. Opinion polls among ethnic Albanians revealed the intention of some 60 per cent of them to attend the elections. Representatives of Renewal, the only coalition putting forward ethnic Serb candidates, say 45 per cent of Serbs attending the elections would be "satisfactory." Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said during a conversation with Russian journalists that Belgrade wants as much ethnic Serbs as possible to attend the elections as a significant representation of this ethnic group in the Parliament is desired. "This meets national interests," said Covic after remarking that after the Parliament is formed Serb people would continue its struggle for its national rights. Covic also expressed hope that Russia will help Serb people. OSCE has assigned 50 million German marks for the elections.

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