Albanians have been showing their support for the independence of Kosovo ahead of the province’s elections tomorrow. Thousands turned out in Albania’s capital Tirana to set the tone for the parliamentary ballot. They want Kosovo, with its ethnic Albanian majority, to split from Serbia.
Ethnic Albanians make up roughly 90 percent of the population of around 2.2 million. They are certain to elect a prime minister that will unilaterally declare independance from Serbia next month. Kosovo has been run by the UN since the end of the war in 1999. Talks on its status, which have proven fruitless so far, must end by December 10.
Leading in the polls is Hashim Thaci, a 39-year old former guerilla commander who helped drive out Serb forces during the conflict. Also in the frame for the role of prime minister is the current president Fatmir Sejdiu. His party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, has fragmented since the death of its founder, former president Ibrahim Rugova, and is struggling in the polls.
Most Serbian would-be candidates are boycotting the election at the behest of the Serbian government, which is opposed to any idea of independance. That has left the door open for Behgjet Pacolli, an industry tycoon who has promised to run Kosovo like a large business if he wins.