BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 13:57 GMT
Kosovo prepares to vote
Election rally
Ethnic Albanians want outright independence
By Paul Anderson in Belgrade

Political parties in Kosovo have ended campaigning for the election for a new national assembly - the first since the United Nations began administering Kosovo in 1999.

The theme of the campaign for the Albanians has been independence - for the Serbs left in Kosovo the fight against it.

Election poster in Kosovo
Kosovo Assembly can not declare independence

But independence is strictly off the agenda for the three year term of the new assembly. Instead it will concentrate on democratic and economic reconstruction.

For the international community the election of a new national assembly endowed with limited powers of self-rule is a logical step in the effort to build democracy in a war ravaged province.

For the Albanian majority it represents the first step towards independence from the Yugoslav federation.

The contenders

The Democratic League of Kosovo, led by the moderate pacifist Ibrahim Rugova is widely tipped to win most seats.

At a final campaign rally in a sports stadium in the capital, Pristina, Mr Rugova said independence was the most precious word for Albanians and he wanted it as soon as possible.

Two other main Albanian parties, fielding former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters turned politicians, are vying for a share of the seats.

They too have been campaigning on the independence ticket, but Mr Rugova's opponents faired badly in municipal elections last year, and they are not expected now to turn round the bulk of the voters.

About 1,300 Kosovo Serbs are still missing
Serbs have been demanding protection from possible reprisals

For all the fiery campaign talk of independence the reality is that Kosovo will remain under overall United Nations control and may do for years to come.

The new assembly does not have the power to decide the province's future status.

It is restricted to provisional self-government and that means continuing the massive democratic and social rebuilding project started by the international community.

Albanian politicians will have to move it to the next phase.

The more mundane business of economic transition, closing bankrupt businesses and starting new ones and developing multi-ethnic civic institutions, including the police, education and transport services.

Can the election bring stability to the region?
See also:

14 Nov 01 | Europe
Kosovo gears up for elections
17 Jun 01 | Europe
UN takes peace mission to Kosovo
30 Jun 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Brave new Kosovo
13 Aug 01 | Europe
Serb refugees return to Kosovo
04 Feb 00 | Europe
Analysis: Protecting the Serbs
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories