Citizens’ representatives of four municipalities in northern Kosovo and Metohija – Kosovska Mitrovica, Leposavić, Zvečan and Zubin Potok – have submitted requests for the initiation of the petition to dismiss mayors as per the process laid down by the government to call new elections.
The Mayor of North Mitrovica, Nexhat Uglanjin confirmed three people went to present the request but had not followed the correct procedure and were asked to do so. The Mayor of Zubin Puton, Izmir Zeqiri confirmed similar information- that the individuals were told to follow the correct process which includes going through municipal assemblies.
As per the government rules, those who wish to call for the removal of a mayor must notify the chairperson of the municipal assembly and the Central Election Commission (CEC) as a first step.
The CEC confirmed the have received four emails with a request for a removal of mayors. CEC spokesperson said the matter is being processed as per the rules.
“I can confirm that during today’s day, we have received four e-mails, three of which have attached the completed form for the initiation of the request for the removal of the mayor from office. At this stage, I can tell you that these letters will be processed and we will inform you about it”, he said.
According to the rules, within five days after receiving the request, the chairman must register the initiating group as an authorised party. If this is not done within the deadline, the group can ask the CEC to do it.
Five days after registration, the group must submit the necessary documents to the chairman regarding number of voters in the respective municipality and the number of signatures required. The group then has 30 days to collect signatures to call for the mayors to be removed, with one extension of 15 days possible.
The petitions are then submitted to the chairman and the CEC. The electoral institution verifies signatures and if the 20% of voter threshold is not reached, the initiating group has another 10 days to reach it. If the appropriate amount of signatures are then collected, an election in that municipality is called.
But some Kosovo Serbs have claimed they were prevented from making the registration.
“We, as citizens, came today to submit an initiative to remove the mayor of North Mitrovica. We wanted to do this, just like our fellow citizens from the municipalities of Zvečan, Zubin Potok, and Leposavić. After several hours of negotiations with the authorities of the North Mitrovica Municipality, we were unable to submit this initiative. Our initiative was rejected,” said Sanja Krtinic, in contradiction with the account from the government.
She stressed that people wanted to initiate the removal of the mayor of North Mitrovica because they believed he had been elected illegally and illegitimately, despite the fact that international observers considered the elections free and fair and recognised the results.
“These were not democratic elections, and I must point out that only two to 3% of voters elected this mayor, mostly from the Albanian community, while more than 95% of Serbs did not vote in these elections. For this reason, we, as citizens, wanted to submit an initiative for the mayor to resign and step down from his position,” said Krtinić.
The current mayors of the four municipalities were appointed after the 23 April elections, which Kosovo Serbs boycotted following calls from Belgrade not to participate. The elections were called after Serbs resigned en masse from all Kosovo institutions at the end of 2022.
(Jelena Jevtić | EURACTIV.rs, Alice Taylor | Euractiv.com)
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