Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities boycott vote on removing ethnic Albanian mayors

News

Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities boycott vote on removing ethnic Albanian mayors
News

News

Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities boycott vote on removing ethnic Albanian mayors

2024-04-22 03:56 Last Updated At:04:00

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities on Sunday overwhelmingly boycotted a vote on removing their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections.

The referendum — supported by the West — was an attempt to diffuse tensions between Kosovo and neighboring Serbia as both countries vie to join the European Union. However, Kosovo's main ethnic Serb party, Srpska Lista, or Serbian List, which has close ties with Belgrade, had called for a boycott of Sunday's poll.

More Images
A Kosovo election official carries a voting material at a polling station in the municipality building in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities on Sunday overwhelmingly boycotted a vote on removing their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections.

A Kosovo election official unloads a truck with ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A Kosovo election official unloads a truck with ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials carry the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials carry the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials unload the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials unload the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A voter is identified before he casts his vote at a polling station in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A voter is identified before he casts his vote at a polling station in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Only 253 out of 46,556 registered voters cast their ballots in all four municipalities. For the mayors to be ousted, a majority vote is needed. No ballots at all were cast in one of the municipalities, Zvecan, according to results after voting ended at 1700 GMT (1 p.m. EDT).

“That is why we note that the citizens’ initiative to oust the mayors of the municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok, Zvecan and North Mitrovica has failed,” said Kreshnik Radoniqi, head of the Central Election Commission, which is in charge of the process.

In June, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti offered to hold new elections in North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok if 20% of the electorate in the municipalities supported a petition for the polls. Residents voted in favor of the petition in January.

When ethnic Albanian mayors took up the offices last May, Kosovo Serbs clashed with security forces, including NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers, injuring 93 troops, while protesting the results.

Serbia has backed calls for the mayors to step down.

Local and EU observers monitored the process.

The result leaves the same tense status quo in northern Kosovo and its EU-facilitated negotiations to normalize ties with neighboring Serbia. No developments are expected in the months ahead.

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani accused Belgrade of exerting pressure on Serbs in Kosovo to boycott the referendum.

“Once again Serbia interfered illegally in the election process of another country. Once again (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic has not kept his word given to international partners (not to interfere),” Osmani said.

Srpska Lista acknowledged that it wanted “to replace these fake mayors in our municipalities, but we didn’t want to play games directed by the regime in Pristina.” The party accused Kurti's government of exerting pressure on ethnic Serbs in the north with its police presence.

Kosovo was a former Serbian province until a 78-day NATO bombing campaign in 1999 ended a war between Serbian government forces and ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, which left about 13,000 dead, mainly ethnic Albanians, and pushed Serbian forces out. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s 2008 independence.

Tensions between the two countries remain high.

On Monday, Kosovo took another major step toward joining the Council of Europe — the continent’s foremost human rights body — amid Serbian opposition. The following day, Belgrade authorities stopped Kosovars trying to go home for nearly 20 hours at border checkpoints, saying it was for security reasons. Pristina accused Belgrade of “holding (Kosovars) hostage” for failing to block Kosovo's Council of Europe membership. The U.S. and EU denounced stalling free movement between the two countries.

Earlier this month, Kosovo announced its first nationwide census since 2011, which will include surveying the ethnic Serb minority in the north. The Srpska List party has denounced the census and called for a boycott, saying it was an attempt by Kurti’s government “to confirm his shameful success in expelling (some 250,000) Serbs,” in reference to the 1999 war.

Another point of contention was Pristina's recent decision to ban ethnic Serbs from using the Serbian currency, the dinar, widely used in Kosovo's Serbian-run institutions, including schools and hospitals.

The United States and the EU are struggling to get the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue “back on track.” Talks between the two have stalled after a Kosovo police officer and three Serb gunmen were killed in a shootout after about 30 masked men opened fire on a police patrol near the Kosovo village of Banjska in September.

Brussels has warned both that refusal to compromise jeopardizes Serbia and Kosovo’s chances of joining the bloc. The 27-nation bloc is keen on maintaining the alignment of the Western Balkan countries — Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania — with the West as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues. The six are at different stages of the accession process.

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

Follow Llazar Semini at https://x.com/lsemini

A Kosovo election official carries a voting material at a polling station in the municipality building in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A Kosovo election official carries a voting material at a polling station in the municipality building in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A Kosovo election official unloads a truck with ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A Kosovo election official unloads a truck with ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials carry the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials carry the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials unload the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo election officials unload the ballot boxes and polling station materials in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A voter is identified before he casts his vote at a polling station in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

A voter is identified before he casts his vote at a polling station in North Mitrovica, Kosovo Sunday, April 21, 2024. Residents of four Serb-majority municipalities are casting their votes Sunday in a referendum to decide whether to remove their ethnic Albanian mayors from office following last year’s mayoral elections, overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb minority. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets for just seven runs as India beat Afghanistan by 47 runs in their Super Eight match at the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday.

Later, Pat Cummins took the first hat-trick of the tournament as Australia beat Bangladesh by 28 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system due to rain delays.

Bumrah’s four-over spell was aided by Arshdeep Singh, who finished with 3-36. Spinners Kuldeep Yadav (2-32) and Axar Patel (1-15) shared three wickets as Afghanistan was bowled out for 134 runs.

Suryakumar Yadav scored 53 off 28 balls — his fifth T20 World Cup half-century — as India reached 181-8 in 20 overs after deciding to bat.

Yadav, named player of the match, hit three sixes and five fours, while Hardik Pandya scored 32 off 24 balls, including two sixes.

“I am clear in my mind how I want to bat," Yadav said. “There’s a lot of hard work, process and routine involved in it. You just need to know your game plan and just play accordingly. In the end, we were happy with 180.”

On a slow-paced Barbados wicket, India had made a sluggish start. Skipper Rohit Sharma was out caught for eight, while star batter Virat Kohli only managed run-a-ball 24.

Rishabh Pant, batting at three, provided some acceleration — he scored 20 off 11 balls with four fours.

Afghanistan skipper and wrist spinner Rashid Khan did damage to India’s top order, dismissing both Kohli and Pant, the latter out lbw. It was the first time Khan picked up wickets against India in T20s.

India was down to 62-3 in 8.3 overs, when Yadav played a rescuing hand. He added 28 of 14 balls with Shivam Dube (10) and then the match-turning 60 runs with Pandya.

Yadav’s stand with Pandya came off only 37 balls as India scored 102 runs off the final 10 overs.

Rashid Khan finished with 3-26 in four overs.

Afghanistan’s chase got off to a poor start against Bumrah — he sent back both openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (11) and Haratullah Zazai (2) cheaply.

In between, Axar Patel struck in the fourth over as Ibrahim Zadran was out for eight, and Afghanistan slipped to 23-3 in 4.1 overs.

Ravindra Jadeja had 1-20 in three overs. Afghanistan lost its last five wickets for 32 runs across 28 deliveries as India crossed the finish line with ease.

At North Sound, Antigua, Cummins claimed the first hat-trick of the tournament as Australia beat Bangladesh by 28 runs after rain delays forced the result to go to the the Duckworth-Lewis system.

Cummins dismissed Mahmdullah and Mahedi Hasan with the last two balls of the 18th over and Towhid Hridoy with the first ball of the 20th as Australia restricted Bangladesh to 140-8.

Australia was 100-2 when heavy rain set in after 11.2 overs, well ahead of the winning score it needed at the time. The umpires finally called off the match around 12.30 a.m. local time.

Cummins was the seventh player to complete a hat-trick — three wickets with three balls — at a Twenty20 World Cup and the second Australian after Brett Lee who achieved the feat, also against Bangladesh, in 2007.

“I had no idea,” Cummins said. “At the end of the over I saw it come up on the screen so I thought I'll make sure I remember but I totally forgot about it. I had a few (hat-tricks) in juniors but never for Australia.”

David Warner and Travis Head then shared a 65-run opening partnership in 6.5 overs to set up Australia’s run chase. Head was out for 31 but Warner went on to make a half century from 34 balls. He finished 53 not out.

Mitchell Starc bowled Tanzid Hasan with the third ball of the match after Australia sent Bangladesh in and Bangladesh struggled to create momentum, hampered by regular wicket falls.

Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto made 41 from 36 ball and shared a half century partnership from 42 balls with Litton Das (16). But after the second-wicket pair were separated with the total was 58-2 in the ninth over, Bangladesh struggled to create partnerships.

Adam Zampa dismissed both Litton Das and Shanto, bowling Das with a ball that snuck under the bat and cannoned off the back leg onto the stumps. Shanto knelt to sweep a ball which skidded on a hit on the knee roll in front of middle.

Zampa also took a catch from Glenn Maxwell’s bowling to remove Rishad Hossain who had been promoted in the order to hurry the scoring but managed only two runs from four balls.

AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket

India's Suryakumar Yadav, right, runs after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Suryakumar Yadav, right, runs after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Suryakumar Yadav watches the ball after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Suryakumar Yadav watches the ball after playing a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Hardik Pandya, left, and batting partner Suryakumar Yadav, center, run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Hardik Pandya, left, and batting partner Suryakumar Yadav, center, run between the wickets to score during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Suryakumar Yadav, left, plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Suryakumar Yadav, left, plays a shot during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah, center, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah, center, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah prepares to bowl his next delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah prepares to bowl his next delivery during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah, left, celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Najibullah Zadran during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah, left, celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Najibullah Zadran during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Najibullah Zadran during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Najibullah Zadran during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

An Indian supporter cheers for his team ahead of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

An Indian supporter cheers for his team ahead of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Recommended Articles