World / Europe

Kosovo votes in early parliamentary elections

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-06-08 17:17

PRISTINA - Kosovo people voted on Sunday in early elections after the government led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci lost majority in parliament.

Over 1.7 million people were to vote in 798 polling centers in Kosovo's 38 municipalities from 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) to 7 p.m. (1700 GMT), said head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Valdete Daka.

Some 18 parties, seven civic organizations, four coalitions and an independent candidate, which in total have 1,235 candidates, were competing for the assembly, according to the CEC.

Preliminary results were expected late on Sunday.

In the 120-member assembly, 10 seats are guaranteed for the ethnic Serbs, who account for about 10 percent of the population, and 10 for other minorities.

The vote, deemed crucial for Kosovo to move forward in the process of European integration, was closely monitored by over 100 EU observers and 27,000 local observers.

Thaci was seeking a third term for his Democratic Party of Kosovo, but faced a fierce competition.

The polls, the 5th since the 1999 war with Serbia, are a major step toward the normalization of relations between the Albanian majority and Serbs in the north, who agreed to participate in the Kosovo elections for the first time after Pristina's unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008.

A special security operation was in place to ensure a smooth election in northern Kosovo. Kosovo police supported by EU Rule of Law mission (EULEX) policemen and NATO-led peacekeeping forces (KFOR) were deployed in four Serb-dominated municipalities in the north.

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