The scene is set for elections in Kosovo this weekend. The people will go to the polls with no indication as to whether the province is destined for independance. December 10th is the key date when negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo on its future must come to fruition.
But for now the talks remain deadlocked. Kosovo’s Serbs are threatening to boycott the legislative and municipal elections like last time. 20 seats in the Parliament are reserved for Serb parties out of the 120 available. It is likely that former guerilla leader Hashim Thaci will win this parliamentary election. His Democratic Party has promised to proclaim unilateral independence on December 10th if the ongoing negotiations come to nothing. “I am entirely committed to building on independence, to attract investors, for the western world to come here and improve our economy and our lives. Kosovo’s representation in international bodies will come step by step,” said Thaci.
Thaci missed out on becoming prime minister in 2004 but is now running against an incumbent party in mourning, struggling to get over the death of former President Ibrahim Rugova. The Democratic League of Kosovo hasn’t found a political heavyweight to replace Rugova and is expected to suffer at the polls as a result.
Into this two-horse race has stepped the Alliance for a New Kosovo, headed by business magnate Behgjet Pacolli, who spends more time in Geneva than Pristina. He made his fortune in construction and has promised to run the province like a large business. “I didn’t enter into politics for an armchair. If I wanted an easy ride I could have found that anywhere in the world,” insisted Pacolli
Whatever the outcome of the election it is unlikely to assuage the fears of the residents of Mitrovica, the ethnically and physically divided town which stands as a symbol of the huge divide between Kosovo’s Serbs and Albanians. It’s already seen serious violence between the two. People fear what December 10th could bring.