Kosovo’s weekend elections are in serious doubt, after unidentified attackers stormed polling places in ethnic Serbian districts across the region’s north, smashing ballot boxes and chasing election officials away.
Kosovo is split between an ethnic Albanian majority and a Serb minority in the north, many of whom opposed secession from Serbia. The Albanian-dominated government has blamed “Serbian hardliners” for the attacks, though it seems odd that if this was the case they’d only attack Serbian neighborhoods.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci insisted the election was “legitimate” and would stand, touting the solid voter turnout in Serb districts as proof of Serbian acquiescence to the government. What’s not clear is if any of the Serbian votes will even count.
Several districts, including those in Mitrovica’s Serb neighborhoods, have had their ballots destroyed, while 27 of 33 polling stations in the Serbian north were attacked overall, and none of them have been counted. Officials say they haven’t decided what to do about that, or if they’ll count those votes at all, as Kosovar Albanian officials say the attacks mean those ballot boxes are suspect and the “integrity” of the election needs to be maintained, even if that means not counting the minority’s votes.